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Art & Maori Culture of NZ

Portrait of Hinepare of Ngāti Kahungunu by Gottfried Lindauer, showing chin moko, pounamu hei-tiki and woven cloak.
New Zealand art is visual art created in New Zealand or by New Zealanders. It includes traditional Māori art, which was developed in New Zealand from Polynesian art forms, and more recent forms which take their inspiration from Māori, European and other traditions.

Explorer art


A view of the Murderers' Bay, as you are at anchor here in 15 fathom, Isaac Gilsemans, 1642
Europeans began producing art in New Zealand as soon as they arrived, with many exploration ships including an artist to record newly discovered places, people, flora and fauna. The first European work of art made in New Zealand was a drawing by Isaac Gilsemans, the artist on Abel Tasman's expedition of 1642.
Portrait of a New Zealand man, Sydney Parkinson, 1784, probably from a sketch made in 1769.
Sir Joseph Banks and Sydney Parkinson of Captain James Cook's ship Endeavour produced the first realistic depictions of Māori people, New Zealand landscapes, and indigenous flora and fauna in 1769. William Hodges was the artist on HMS Resolution in 1773, and John Webber on HMS Resolution in 1777. Their works captured the imagination of Europeans and were an influence in the 19th century movement of art towards naturalism.
Cook's artists' paintings and descriptions of moko sparked an interest in the subject in Europe, and led to the tattoo becoming a tradition of the British Navy.

Nineteenth century Pākehā art

Early 19th century artists were for the most part visitors to New Zealand rather than residents. Some, such as James Barry, who painted the Ngare Raumatichief Rua in 1818 and Thomas Kendall with the chiefs Hongi Hika and Waikato in 1820, did not visit New Zealand at all but painted his subjects when they visited Britain.
Landscape art was popular amongst early colonisers, with prints used to promote settlement in New Zealand. Notable landscape artists included Augustus Earle, who visited New Zealand in 1827-28, and William Fox, who later became Premier. As colonisation developed a small but derivative art scene began based mostly on landscapes. However the most successful artists of this period, Charles Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer were noted primarily for their portraits of Māori. Most notable Pākehā artists of their period worked in two dimensions; although there was some sculpture this was of limited notability.
Photography in New Zealand also began at this time and, like painting, initially concentrated mostly on landscape and Māori subjects.

The Twentieth Century

Creation of a distinct New Zealand art

From the late 19th century, many Pākehā (white New Zealanders) attempted to create a distinctive New Zealand style of art. Many, such as Rita Angus, continued to work on landscapes, with attempts made to depict New Zealand's harsh light. Others appropriate Māori artistic styles; for example Gordon Walters created many paintings and prints based on the koru. New Zealand's most highly regarded 20th century artist was Colin McCahon, who attempted to use international styles such as cubism in New Zealand contexts. His paintings depicted such things as the Angel Gabriel in the New Zealand countryside. Later works such as the Urewera triptych engaged with the contemporary Māori protest movement.

Māori cultural renaissance

From the early 20th century, politician Apirana Ngata fostered a renewal of traditional Māori artforms, for example establishing a school of Māori arts in Rotorua.

Late Twentieth and early Twenty-First Centuries

The visual arts flourished in the later decades of the 20th century, with the increased cultural sophistication of many New Zealanders. Many Māori artists became highly successful blending elements of Māori culture with European modernism. Ralph Hotere is New Zealand's highest selling living artist, but other such as Shane Cotton and Michael Parekowhai are also very successful.Peter Jean Caley Kai Tahu artist has international acclaim with his original Maori portraits and cultural oil paintings. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

Maori Culture

New Zealand's Maori culture is unique to New Zealand - Aotearoa - Land of the Long White Cloud. Experience and sometimes participate in the tradition of our country's indigenous people including concerts, a hangi, NZ tribal arts and crafts and even visit a Marae (meeting place).
Rotorua offers the best selection of Maori culture that is available to visitors with comprehensive History and cultural information. You can experience visually and interactively the unique NZ Maori culture in its genuine form.

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