‘It is the habit of ethnologists to study Māori art as if it had come to an abrupt end on the arrival of the European settlers in New Zealand and to regard post European work as being of little importance. It is necessary to point out, however, that the major forms of Māori art have never died out and that there is a continuous tradition from pre-European times to the present.’
Jock McEwan, Encylopedia of New Zealand, vol. II. Wellington: Government Printer, 1966, pp.408-429.
The above excerpt from Encyclopedia of New Zealand, 1966, was included in Mane-Wheoki’s text. The text can be seen as a historical reflection of the existence of Maori art in New Zealand art history. Mane-Wheoki’s involvement in New Zealand art history has given him an understanding of the conversations in art throughout the past. Whilst pakeha painting has been central to the discussion of New Zealand art history, Maori art has not been used to recount time in the same way. In it’s self, absence of Maori art has sparked and become more central to discussion. For a long time, painting was sought when New Zealand felt the need to define itself through art. Where paintings, pre dating the arrival of europeans, were given publications and many group exhibitions, Maori art merely had a section in the Nation’s encyclopedia (above). The arrival of europeans made maori feel “self conscious” (Mane-Wheoki.7) of their art under the criticism of another cultures artistic preconceptions. It wasn’t until the 1950s that contemporary maori art emerged and lay way for what is now considered Maori contemporary art. Included in the Mane-Wheoki, a rebuttal of Ron O’Reilly, Christchurch City Librarian, whom reviewed the statement on maori art featured in Encyclopedia of New Zealand, responding, ‘We must learn to consider Māori art as art'(Mane-Wheoki.7). Anderson discusses the many ways Maori have positioned themselves on a world stage after decades of being subdued by a european dominance.
“Local Government Tea Party” can be considered from a Māori worldview as it is a form of visual activism speaking for Maori rights, views and protests towards the New Zealand government. Artist, Emily Karaka, presents the relevancy of the Treaty of Waitangi to contemporary New Zealand society. The piece expresses how in a contemporary age Maori views are expressed, acknowledged and deserve a rightful place in the discourse of New Zealand governance.
Mane-Wheoki, J. Art’s Histories in Aotearoa New Zealand. Journal of Art Historiography Number 4 June 2011
Anderson, Atholl. Binney, Judith. and Harris, Aroha. “Chapter 5: In the Foreign Gaze”. Tangata whenua: An illustrated history