Let's ask the question: who are the custodians of Maori Visual Art?

"Free" by Tracey Tawhiao

"Free" by Tracey Tawhiao

Thank you for all of your thought provoking responses to the previous post's question "Is it alright to combine elements of Maori designs and create something new out of them?"

​Maori Carving

​Maori Carving

I'm in the middle of reading Tuamaka - The Challenge of Difference in Aotearoa New Zealand by social anthropologist Dame Joan Metge and she suggests...

"The problem of cultural appropriation is particularly acute for the creative artist. Sometimes there is a very fine line between legitimate borrowing and looting. Maori have themselves appropriated most of the things they have 'borrowed' from Western cultures and adapted them to their own ends."

The difference lies in the location of power.  Members of the dominant Pakeha culture, with their greater access to power, need to be especially sensitive and observe certain guidelines. The two I suggest are to:

1) Seek guidance and permission from the Maori custodians of the treasures that attract you

2) Strive to be true to the original intention and spirit

Maori are shrewd at picking those who approach them with genuine respect and those who fake it... My own favourite strategy is to work with a Maori partner: I have found that we complement and inspire each other."

- Dame Joan Metge.

So, I have one more question for you all!

I ask this particularly on behalf of overseas designers and artists who want to incorporate Maori symbols into their work but don't know how to contact kaumatua...

Please Leave a Reply below or email me sofia@sofiaminson.com

Written by artist Sofia Minson from NewZealandArtwork.com
New Zealand Maori portrait and landscape oil paintings


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