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Headline: Bringing Māori arts home to Northland

March 2015

Prominent Māori artist Kura Te Waru-Rewiri is looking forward to the launch of NorthTec’s newest degree programme.

Kura, who was born and raised in the Far North, is the senior tutor for the Maunga Kura Toi – Bachelor of Māori Art, which starts later this month.

Kura has been at the forefront of many contemporary Māori art developments in Aotearoa and in the establishment of Māori art education at tertiary level. Her work is represented in numerous public and private collections both nationally and internationally.

As an acknowledged senior artist in mainstream and Te Ao Māori, she believes that the NorthTec Bachelor of Māori Art will open the door to many employment opportunities, including business, teaching, tourism, public galleries and museums. The qualification has a strong focus on business, which is a compulsory strand, and also offers the choice of specialising in teaching or curatorship.

Kura said: “This new qualification will work toward positive outcomes for the North. We have a very strong presence of artists of whakairo (carving), raranga (weaving) and rauangi (Māori visual arts) who have often voluntarily given their services to their communities. They now have an opportunity to gain a qualification in their specialist arena.”

Kura is a graduate of the Ilam School of Fine Arts (University of Canterbury) and has been teaching since 1975. She has taught at a number of New Zealand institutions, including secondary schools, tertiary colleges, universities and Whare Wananga.

She was one of the first two Māori appointments to the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, alongside prominent Māori artist Selwyn Murupaenga. In 1996 she joined Robert Jahnke and Shane Cotton, both high-profile artists and educators, as a lecturer in Māori Visual Arts at Massey University in Palmerston North. Kura has also been acknowledged as a Māori arts advocate and mentor, whose work has marked some significant turning points in the development of contemporary Māori art.

Her paintings are held in prestigious collections such as Wellington’s Te Papa Museum, Auckland Art Gallery, Waikato Museum of Art & History, Dunedin Art Gallery, The University of Auckland and the National Art Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Kura said that historically, the North was where the contemporary Māori art movement had its beginnings in the 1960s, due to the Tovey Māori Arts Advisory group. During her time as a pupil at Paihia Primary School she was exposed to the teachings of this advisory group and encouraged to produce a carved pou, which she did at the age of 13.

Kura feels that she was born into the contemporary Māori art movement, being involved with the development of government funding to assist the growth of the subject’s significance within the tertiary environment, including polytechnics, wananga and universities.

She is excited, therefore, to be able to bring Māori art education “home” to Northland through the NorthTec Maunga Kura Toi. Kura said: “Now is the time for Te Tai Tokerau to move towards higher levels of learning, and make its presence felt through strengthening indigenous art connections.”

The degree programme starts on 23 March, with a limited number of places still available. For information or to enrol, contact NorthTec on 0800 162 100, or visit

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