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Gottfried Lindauer, showing chin moko, pounamu hei-tiki and woven cloak. Charcoal drawings can be found on limestone rock shelters in the centre of the South Island, with over 500 sites stretching from Kaikoura to North Otago. The drawings are estimated to be between 500 and 800 years old, and portray animals, people and fantastic creatures, possibly stylised reptiles. Late twentieth century carved house post depicting the navigator Kupe. Although in an essentially traditional style, this carving was created using metal tools and uses modern paints, creating a form distinct from that of pre-European times. Māori art was highly spiritual and in a pre-literate society conveyed information about spiritual matters, ancestry, and other culturally important topics. Carving was done in three media: wood, bone, and stone.
Arguably ta moko was another form of carving. Wood carvings were used to decorate houses, fencepoles, containers, taiaha and other objects. Ta moko is the art of traditional Māori tattooing, done with a chisel. Men were tattooed on many parts of their bodies, including faces, buttocks and thighs. Women were usually tattooed only on the lips and chin. The art declined in the 19th century following the introduction of Christianity, but in recent decades has undergone a revival.
While many of these were purely functional, others were true works of art taking hundreds of hours to complete, and often given as gifts to important people. Cloaks in particular could be decorated with feathers and were the mark of an important chief. Although the oldest forms of Māori art are rock paintings, in ‘classical’ Māori art, painting was not an important art form. It was mainly used as a minor decoration in meeting houses, in stylised forms such as the koru. 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. 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. Early 19th-century artists were for the most part visitors to New Zealand, not residents. Landscape art was popular with early colonisers, and prints were widely used to promote settlement in New Zealand. Photography in New Zealand also began at this time and, like painting, initially concentrated mostly on landscape and Māori subjects. Cass, painted in 1936, is one of Rita Angus’ best-known landscapes.
Many, such as Rita Angus, continued to work on landscapes, with attempts made to depict New Zealand’s harsh light. From the early 20th century, politician Āpirana Ngata fostered a renewal of traditional Māori art forms, for example establishing a school of Māori arts in Rotorua. 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. Creative New Zealand is the national agency for the development of the arts in New Zealand. The National Art Gallery of New Zealand was established in 1936, and was amalgamated into the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in 1992.
Archived from the original on 2009-02-24. Society for Research on Amphibians and Reptiles in New Zealand. The Big Picture: A history of New Zealand art from 1642. A view of the Murderers’ Bay”. Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.
The Rev Thomas Kendall and the Maori chiefs Hongi and Waikato 1820″. A narrative of a nine months’ residence in New Zealand in 1827: together with a journal of a residence in Tristan D’Acunha, an island situated between South America and the Cape of Good Hope. William Fox – Painter and Premier”. Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa homepage”. Art Schools – Elam School of Fine Arts”. A Journey from North to South. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Art of New Zealand.
History of New Zealand painting, NZHistory. This page was last edited on 17 February 2018, at 17:40. The islands are not densely populated, the South Island even less so than the North Island, but they are easily accessible. The country has modern visitor facilities and transport networks that are reasonably well developed.
New Zealand often adds an adventurous twist to nature. It is the original home of jet boating through shallow gorges as well as bungee jumping off anything high enough to give a thrill. Māori culture continues to play an important part in everyday life and the identity of the nation. Government and corporate New Zealand is full of Māori symbolism. There are abundant opportunities for visitors to understand and experience the history and present-day forms of Māori life.