Tui’s forms are responsive to the materials in which she works and infused with a contemporary twist and aesthetic. Timbers such as totara, kauri, rimu, pohutakawa and matai each have a unique grain, colour and history which is hugely inspirational.
Tui was inspired to start carving when she inherited chisels and a pile of wood from her father who had been a sculptor and cabinetmaker.
Her mother was Rarotongan and the inspiration from her Rarotongan heritage is clearly reflected in her work. Tui acknowledges these traditions saying, “A lot of my influence comes from my grandmother, who was a designer and sewer of tīvaevae, so when I started carving, I began with flowers and natural forms.”
In 2004 she won The Martin Hughes Contemporary Pacific Art Award and travelled to Rarotonga, Aitutaki and Atiu, Samoa. This allowed her to meet with local artists and connect with family. While there she was further inspired by traditional Pacific arts and tattoo designs.
In 2008 she went to Taiwan as Artist In Residence at Kaohsiung Fine Arts. Her work “Vaka ToThe Stars” remains in Kaohsiung.
Tui carves in both small scale and large, but it is her large-scale public works that tend to be best documented.