In both Mane-Wheoki, Art Histories in Aotearoa and Anderson, Tangata Whenua the idea that Maori visual and material culture has been framed predominantly by western accounts becomes very clear. Much Maori Art or art involving Maori lifestyle began to be produced after 1840 around the time of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi. New Zealand Art history books and exhibitions involve Pakeha interpretations of Maori lifestyle and people and the majority of this doesn’t date back earlier than European settlement in New Zealand. Maori Art is often not Art by Maori people but Art from a Pakehas perspective of Maori people.
This pencil 1983 drawing shows night and the earth mother. The image showing mother and an unborn child, Te Po and Papatuanuku is by Robyn Kahukiwa who is a prominent Maori Artist in New Zealand. The Maori shapes and designs that cover her and her unborn child represent their Maori culture and Tikanga. Papatuanuku is the earth mother who gives birth to all living things. In this drawing, she has her eyes closed and is alone in the night. Using Maori worldview, this image could be seen to represent the birth of anything within NZ. Papatuanuku and her unborn child wearing the Maori culture soon to give birth to all living things that live in New Zealand.
Tangata Whenua – Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney, Aroha Harris
Mane-Wheoki, J. (2011). Art’s Histories in Aotearoa New Zealand.