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Craft and its broader cultural role in Aotearoa

Landmark publication takes another look at craft and its broader cultural role in Aotearoa and the wider Moana

A major new history of craft that spans three centuries of making and thinking in Aotearoa New Zealand and the wider Moana Oceania publishes this week.

Paying attention to Pākehā, Māori, and island nations of the wider Moana, and old and new migrant makers and their works, Crafting Aotearoa is a history of craft understood as an idea that shifts and changes over time.

At the heart of the magisterial book lie the relationships between Pākehā, Māori and wider Moana artistic practices that, at different times and for different reasons, have been described by the term craft. Over 464 pages and with more than 380 images, it tells the previously untold story of craft in Aotearoa New Zealand, so that the connections, as well as the differences and tensions, can be identified and explored.

Crafting Aotearoa proposes a new idea of craft – one that acknowledges Pākehā, Māori and wider Moana histories of making, as well as diverse community perspectives towards objects and their uses and meanings.

It’s three highly respected editors, together with dozens of contributing subject experts, tell many stories of making, revealing how the handmade object has played a central and sometimes unappreciated role in building the multicultural nation of Aotearoa.

ABOUT THE EDITORS

Kolokesa U Māhina-Tuai has a background in art history, social anthropology and museum and heritage studies and was curator of Moana Oceania cultures at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa from 2004 to 2008 and Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira from 2013 to 2017. She has been a guest curator and consultant for Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, and a consultant for Alt Group and the Government of Tonga’s Culture Division, Ministry of Tourism. She is co-author of Nimamea‘a: The fine arts of Tongan embroidery and crochet (Objectspace 2011), Tangata o le Moana: New Zealand and the people of the Pacific (Te Papa Press, 2012) and Kolose: The Art of Tuvalu Crochet (Māngere Arts Centre – Ngā Tohu o Uenuku, 2014).

Karl Chitham (Ngā Puhi) is Director of the Dowse Art Museum and was formerly the Director and Curator of Tauranga Art Gallery. He has been involved in the arts in Aotearoa in a variety of roles for over fifteen years. His projects have included a series of exhibitions and accompanying publications highlighting contemporary toi Māori such as Whatu Manawa: Celebrating the weaving of Matekino Lawless, Toi Mauri: Contemporary Māori art by Todd Couper and Whenua Hou: New Māori ceramics.

Damian Skinner is a Pākehā art historian and curator who lives in Gisborne. He received his PhD in art history from Victoria University of Wellington in 2006, for a thesis exploring the dynamic relationship between customary and modern Māori art in the twentieth century. He has written a number of books about Māori and Pākehā art, and Pākehā craft. His most recent book is Theo Schoon: A biography (Massey University Press, 2018).

Crafting Aotearoa: A Cultural History of Making in New Zealand and the Wider Moana Oceania

Edited by Karl Chitham, Kolokesa U Māhina-Tuai and Damian Skinner

Published by Te Papa Press, $85.00

https://www.tepapa.govt.nz/about/te-papa-press/our-authors/crafting-aotearoa-authors-biographies-and-interview


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