Ngā Ringa Toi o Tahu

Te toi whakairo, ka ihiihi, ka wehiwehi, ka aweawe te ao katoa.
Artistic excellence makes the world sit up in wonder.

A series of mini art documentaries capturing the talent and achievements of some of our most well-known Ngāi Tahu artists.

Simon Kaan

Simon Kaan describes his work as ‘biological landscapes’, animated vistas that piece together a sense of belonging and explore a multi-dimensional sense of self.

…those Chinese artists, traditionally were engaged with (land) in the same way as Māori think about whenua here… The spiritual nature of it.


Born in Dunedin in 1971 to a Chinese father and Ngāi Tahu mother, it is not surprising that his whakapapa and strong sense of his Ngāi Tahu heritage, has grounded him in the cultural and physical local landscape, the subject of many of his paintings.

His Chinese heritage has had equal influence and is as interwoven within his work as it is within him as an individual.

Fiona Pardington

For several decades Dr Fiona Pardington has been a prominent figure in the contemporary art world both locally here in Aotearoa and internationally. An extraordinary talent, she has received numerous accolades for her hauntingly beautiful photographic works.

I want my photographs to be more than name, form or concept. I want them to be a piece of my life, an image connected with me – by the bridge of emotion.


In 2016 she was named a Knight (Chevalier) in the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres) by the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls and in this years Queens Birthday Honours was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to photography.

Ross Hemera

Professor Ross Hemera can best be described as a rangatira of the Ngāi Tahu art aesthetic. Drawing inspiration from the landscape of Te Waipounamu and in particular, the rock art created by his tīpuna, his works are creative expressions of contemporary Māori pattern, design and imagery, and expand the tradition of Ngāi Tahu visual culture.

Te waatea… All of my work is about filling that space. Kia ora koutou katoa, I don’t need to say anything more.


Most well-known for his mixed-media sculptures, his work has been included in many contemporary Māori art exhibitions and in recent times he has taken on a number of public commissions including the Te Ao Marama carving at Te Papa Tongarewa and the ‘Tuhituhi Whenua’ mural at Te Hononga: Christchurch Civic Building.

Whakapapa, whenua, mana, taonga and whānau are at the heart of his creative practice and guide his visual expression of ‘Ngāitahutanga’.

Reihana Parata and Morehu Flutey-Henare

Reihana Parata (QSM), and Morehu Flutey-Henare are two extraordinarily gifted and humble Ngāi Tahu wahine, with a shared passion and a long-standing creative partnership. Tohunga in the practice of weaving, they have dedicated their lives to keeping the tradition alive through their huge body of work and passing on their knowledge to others. Using the traditional techniques passed down through the generations coupled with the inspiration for patterns they find in nature and their own artistic interpretation, their distinctive work is highly sought after.

They used to say there are no Māori in Christchurch.


In 2015 they were commissioned to create 13 Whairiki patterned paving stones as one of the anchor projects for the Christchurch Recovery Plan. Ngā Whāriki Manaaki, depicts the progression of a traditional pōwhiri using the patterns traditionally used for weaving floor mats and creating templates that could be laid using coloured paving stones.

Fayne Robinson

Recognised as one of the modern masters, carver Fayne Robinson has an international reputation for his unique talent for blending traditional and contemporary styles into his work.

Our whakapapa makes it ours. You can’t get any more true to form than that.


One of only four Ngāi Tahu to be accepted into the prestigious NZ Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, Fayne has been commissioned to work on a range of projects from wharenui to public art pieces over a career spanning more than 30 years.

Lonnie Hutchinson

While drawing lies at the heart of Lonnie Hutchinson’s practice she is perhaps best known for her cutouts using black builders paper to create a delicate interplay of space, light and shadow. Lonnie draws on a range of influences from contemporary advertising and popular culture to Polynesian aesthetics and art forms; and, the rich cultural resources of her Polynesian heritage.

Transgendered individuals were revered as having Sharman qualities. I find that area really interesting. That’s what I’d like to make further inquiries about.


In a career spanning over 30 years Lonnie has built an international reputation having been awarded a number of residencies and exhibiting around the globe. In recent times she has been engaged in a number of large scale public commissions, most recently the Justice and Emergency Precinct in Christchurch. She was the first female recipient of the MacMillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies residency at the University of Canterbury and the first International Indigenous Art Residency at the Banff Art Centre in Canada. In 2015 Lonnie was awarded the Creative New Zealand Pasifika Contemporary Artist Award.

Nathan Pohio

Conceptual artist Nathan Pohio works in video, photo media and installation. Drawing on a variety of photographic and cinematic practices he, is well known for producing works that contain a heightened and tender cultural energy.

Values that I think I have always applied in my life anyway, are being presented and expanded upon so that my understanding of them is clearer.


In 2016 Nathan was nominated for a Walters Prize – New Zealand’s most prestigious of art honours for his work Raise the anchor, unfurl the sails, set course to the centre of an ever setting sun! – a reproduction of a photograph recording the visit of the British Governor General and his wife, Lord and Lady Plunket, to Tuahiwi in 1905.

And it was from there he was invited to exhibit at documenta 14, one of the world’s largest and most highly regarded contemporary art exhibitions, held just once every five years. This documentary follows Nathan and his work to the exhibition opening in Athens where his work featured in the entrance to the National Museum of Contemporary Art, EMST.

Areta Wilkinson

Conceptual artist Areta Wilkinson designs and crafts jewellery reflective of both traditional Māori adornments and the histories and practices of New Zealand contemporary jewellery.
Each unique and beautifully crafted taonga represents an exploration of cultural values, of whakapapa and identity and craft methodology.

Art making, predominantly for me, is about learning. Most of the time it’s really exciting, it’s really amazing and it’s a real privilege.


Over a career spanning 20 years she has built a reputation that sees her work in national public galleries and collections such as the third Auckland Triennial, City Gallery Wellington, Auckland Museum, Dowse Art Museum and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.