Telling our Stories: An archive of Māori artists – Rangatahi

The third in a series of blog posts about Māori artists.

As Māori artists keep making work, curating exhibitions and realising art projects they are not only carving out the space that contemporary art sits in, but they are re-imagining this space and what it means for Māori stories.

A lot of the artists I have mentioned in the last couple of blogs have previously or are sharing their skills and experience as lecturers or tutors at art schools across Aotearoa. These Rangatahi are intrinsically connected to an ancestral pattern of learning to then disseminate that knowledge out. They are bringing fresh perspectives to the table with new materials and innovative ways to engage people in their art!

In this list I am highlighting some Rangatahi artists who are doing just that through their practice, re-imagining what the contemporary Māori reality is. Their art is an extension to the kōrero that our Tuakana artists started.

Ana Iti (Te Rarawa)

Ana Iti is an artist whose work employs language and text in a sculptural and experiential form. Her work poetically recounts history and how colonial architecture has influenced Māori identity. Often bold vinyl text that Iti has written is stuck to the side of buildings or the walls of galleries alongside other material, often found, that supports the exhibition. Iti is a widely exhibited artist with momentum building as she has continues working and telling our stories.

Morgan Mathews-Hale (Ngāti Irakehu, Ngāti Mako)

Morgan Mathews-Hale is a local artist and designer who incorporates new materials and ways of designing into her work while maintaining the traditional knowledge and heritage of Māori art forms. Her work is bold and colourful as it wraps itself around its host building, canvas or whatever, telling the stories of these places and people. Our very own Tūranga has the privilege of wearing some of Mathews-Hale’s work both inside and out. The brightly coloured lift shafts that depict various native birds is the work, as well as Tūhura which is the design on the external wall which was done in collaboration with artist Riki Manuel.

  • Morgan Mathews-Hale has a website, Kaitiaki Studios with lots of images of her work!
  • Photos and explanations of the artwork at Tūranga
Stage and podium, TSB Space / Tautoru
Kākano Puananī – Airborne Seeds by Riki Manuel and Morgan Mathews-Hale, TSB Space / Tautoru, Tūranga, File reference: TU-2018-10-12-028 Photo by Pam Carmichael Photography. All rights reserved.

Mata Aho Collective

This is a collective made up of four wāhine Māori who come together to make large scale, collaborative fibre based work. Mata Aho is Sarah Hudson (Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe), Terri Te Tau (Rangitāne ki Wairarapa), Bridget Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāi Te Rangi) and Erena Baker (Te Atiawa ki Whakarongotai, Ngāti Toa Rangatira). Through their work they use everyday materials to comment on the complexity of Māori lives. Their work has been exhibited extensively in Aotearoa and even internationally and most recently their work has been nominated for this year’s Walters Prize. In my opinion, Mata Aho is quietly yet fiercely dominating the art industry at the moment and is definitely a name to look out for.

Ayesha Green (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu)

Ayesha Green has a unique painting style that flattens the image by block colouring on large plywood boards. Don’t be mistaken by the initial cartoon/caricature look to her paintings as the theory is firmly situated in whakapapa and its realities today. She has had many exhibitions throughout Aotearoa and is currently living and working in Ōtepoti.

Arapeta Ashton (Ngāti Mahuta, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Whanaunga, Ngāti Porou and Muriwhenua)

Ashton has a practice that spans mediums such as performance, moving image and weaving, exploring ideas of identity and Māori knowledge systems. With Ashton’s work having a foundation in Māori knowledge means the work goes beyond the physical objects that Ashton makes as the exhibition is supported by making workshops led by Ashton, or films that give the work more depth. Having graduated from Elam School of Fine Arts in Tāmaki Makau Rau with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Hons), Ashton has maintained a frequent exhibition history.

Chevron Hassett (Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Rongomaiwahine, Ngāti Kahungunu, Pākeha)

Photography is Chevron Hassett’s medium through which he documents story and narrative. His photos, while mimicking those found within wharenui all over Aotearoa that celebrate the people of those areas, are recording new stories and connecting back to whānau through portraiture. His photography is quite dramatic but they are very powerful in their intentions.  

Māia Abraham (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngā Rauru)*

Māia Abraham is an artist and curator currently working as Māori Collection Specialist at Christchurch City Libraries. His art and curatorial practice explores kaupapa Māori ways of thinking and working; asking questions such as how can mātauranga Māori be applied to an arts practice? Or perhaps how can mātauranga Māori enhance the ways we might experience art? Here is some art and other projects Māia has been a part of.

*I put this in because the Ngā Ratonga Māori team said I had to (I have proofJ)!


Aotearoa – New Zealand
Rangatahi – To be young or youthful
Kōrero – To speak or have a discussion
Tuakana – Older or established group of people
Wāhine – Women
Ōtepoti – Dunedin
Tāmaki Makau Rau – Auckland
Wharenui – Ancestral meeting house
Whānau – Family
Kaupapa Māori – A Māori approach
Mātauranga Māori – Māori knowledge system

Find out more

Māia Abraham
Pou Kohikohinga Māori | Māori Collections Specialist
Māori Services