Maori visual culture has been generalised despite restrictions preventing a thorough understanding. Historically, observation was limited by geographic location and language barriers which prevented the understanding of ‘intricate’ concepts (Anderson 132). These recordings ‘hardly constitute a balanced picture’ (Anderson 132). Recorded through a Eurocentric world view, Maori visual culture has historically been dismissed as ethnographic artefacts as opposed to art in the Western sense (Mane-Wheoki 8). An exhibition of customary Maori art recontextualised Maori visual and material culture when shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (Mane-Wheoki 7). Whether or not the distinction between ‘art’ and ‘Maori art’ needs to be made is a contested issue.
Anderson, Atholl. “In the Foreign Gaze.” Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History. New Zealand: Bridget Williams Books, 2012. 132-162. Print.
Wheoki, Jonathan Mane. “Art’s Histories in Aotearoa in New Zealand.” Journal of Art Historiography 4 (2011): 1-12. PDF.
This 1980 poster was designed to promote the study of te reo. As Maori language is traditionally oral, it is an integral part of Maori culture. This poster holds historical significance – the Native Schools Act 1867 introduced schools for Maori children with a policy of assimilation and a primary goal of teaching english (Binney 294). These laws were described by Claudia Orange as ‘the most serious attack on the vitality of Maori life (Orange 98). Therefore this poster symbolises the fact while political independence was lost, Maori identity and cultural autonomy survived the impact of Europe (Belich 22).
Belich, James, ‘Myth, Race and Identity in New Zealand’, New Zealand Journal of History, 31(1), April 1997
O’Malley, Vincent, and Alan Ward. “Chapter 10 The Land and the People.”Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History. By Judith Binney. New Zealand: Bridget Williams, 2012. 286-318. Print.
Orange, Claudia. An Illustrated History of the Treaty of Waitangi. Wellington, N.Z.: Bridget Williams, 2004. Print.
Sinclair, Keith. The Oxford Illustrated History of NZ. N.p.: Oxford UP, 1994. Print.