The second in a series of blog posts about Māori artists.
Our art history in Aotearoa is strengthened and enriched because of the contributions by Māori artists. The tuakana artists who I highlighted in the last post made huge developments in their own art practice to make way for our teina artists to imagine what their voice might be. And they have!
Our Māori stories have always been represented in our galleries, libraries, archives and museums but they are now finding more and more space in these institutions across Aotearoa as Māori begin telling their stories. These artists are extending Māori concerns and theories further into their art, Aotearoa art history and even the world.
The artists in this list are masters of their craft, whether it’s photography and film that animate rhythm and sound to their stories; or whether its large scale sculpture and installation that has a foundation in a Māori worldview; or whether it’s a jewellery practice that is about the spiritual connections to adornment. They continue to open doors for younger artists to see themselves achieving. Explore what can of these artists online and check out their awesome art!
Peter Robinson (Ngāi Tahu)
Peter Robinson has a large practice that explores ideas such as identity through the installation of manipulated materials or painting or even intricate sculpture. He has an art career that spans 30 years both here in Aotearoa and the world. He was one of first artists to represent Aotearoa at the Venice Biennale in 2001 with Jaqueline Fraser. He also won the Walters Prize in 2008, the top art prize in Aotearoa.
Michael Parekōwhai (Ngāti Whakaronga, Ngā Ariki)
If there was ever an artists whose work is both beautifully mesmerising and conceptually confusing, then it is Michael Parekōwhai. His grand sculptures that explore contemporary Māori experiences are like bold one line statements, philosophical quotes or punchlines to a joke. They are hard hitting and keep you intrigued whether you know what is going on or not. Parekōwhai represented Aotearoa at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and has exhibited many times across the world. He currently lives in Auckland and is a Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland.
- Artist work and biography on Michael Lett Gallery website
- Large exhibition at Te Papa
- Artist page, Auckland Art Gallery
Fiona Pardington (Ngāi Tahu, Kāti Māmoe and Ngāti Kahungunu)
Photography is a medium that has the power to make places and objects stagnant and emotionless, however Fiona does not do that. Her photography with its spiritual and slightly spooky undertones, layer meaning on an image, telling stories of the unseen within it. With her practice being strongly linked to museums and archives, her work often gives voice and life to objects otherwise hidden away and out of site. Her work has been exhibited extensively across Aotearoa and the world for 30 years and she is one artist to keep an eye on.
- Artists profile on Starkwhite Gallery website
- Current exhibition of work at the Christchurch Art Gallery
Lisa Reihana (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Hine, Ngāi Tū)
Lisa Reihana is a multimedia artist whose work has employed many mediums like film making, costume design, sound, animation and photography to convey her stories. Her work gives sensitively gives life and drama to Māori stories, both current and historical. Reihana has been working as an artists since the 90’s and has an impressive exhibition history. In 2017, Reihana represented Aotearoa at the Venice Biennale with a large scale, panoramic video called in Pursuit of Venus, which uniquely re-examines the colonisation and Cook’s voyages in the Pacific.
Areta Wilkinson (Ngāti Irakehu, Te Hapū o Ngāti Wheke, Ngāi Tūāhuriri)
Areta has a jewellery practice that makes overtly clear the relationship between Māori adornment values and the personal. She explores the impact and development of artwork through a collective and collaborative process that extends our understanding of the traditional form of jewellery. Her work even adorns our very own Tūranga - a collaborative work with artist Ranui Ngarimu called Rau Whakapapa is installed on Tuakiri | Identity, Level 2.
- Artist bio on Ngāi Tahu Iwi website
- Artwork and bio at The National Gallery
- Artwork by Areta at Fingers Gallery
Nathan Pohio (Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe, Ngāi Tahu – Ngāi Tūāhuriri)
Nathan Pohio is not only an important Aotearoa artist whose work is well recognised around the world, but is also the Assistant curator at the Christchurch Art Gallery. Pohio is an interdisciplinary artist using mediums like film and photography to investigate the complexities of whakapapa. His works and exhibitions often have many layers of connection woven in between the artist, the work and the gallery itself which essentially gives the work new context.
Aotearoa – New Zealand
Tuakana – Older or established group of people
Teina – Younger group of people
Whakapapa – Genealogy
Find out more
Pou Kohikohinga Māori | Māori Collections Specialist