Robyn Kahukiwa

Genre: Contemporary Art

Country of Origin: New Zealand

As a prominent Maori artist, Robyn Kahukiwa has established a strong connection between art and politics, augmenting the current Maori cultural renaissance. Australian born, Kahukiwa lost her connection with her culture and family until re-establishing her ties on her return to New Zealand. The rediscovery of her Maori heritage was fundamental to her beginning as an artist. Events of the mid-1970s including the Hikoi (Land March on Parliament) and the passing of the Treaty of Waitangi Act encouraged her interest in issues relevant to the Maori. In each case, the work she has completed since her early career as an artist ‘has marked a stage in the process of reclaiming and affirming identity’.

Kahukiwa has a considerable interest in connecting with the Maori community and specifically with the rangitahi (young Maori people) through her work. In 1972 she was employed as an art teacher at Mana College, Porirua. During this time she focused on sharing her cultural experiences with younger people. ‘Painting from her experience, and as a largely self-taught artist, initially meant empathizing with her Maori and Pacific Island students’ sense of alienation, urbanization, detribalization and cultural dislocation and disorientation, and delineating images of the ‘outsider’ in a painfully sincere form of realism’.

Source: Warwick Henderson Gallery