Kura Te Waru Rewiri

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Kura Te Waru Rewiri (born in Kaeo, 1950) is a New Zealand artist, academic and educator of Ngāti Kahu, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Rangi descent.[1] In Te Puna, Māori Art from Te Tai Tokerau Northland, Deidre Brown writes, "Kura Te Waru Rewiri is one of Aotearoa, New Zealand's most celebrated Māori women artists."[2] :98


Kura attended Northland College where she was taught by Selwyn Wilson. She then attended Bay of Islands College and was taught by Buck Nin who encouraged her to study at Ilam School of Fine Arts in Christchurch.[3]

During her time at Ilam she was tutored by Don Peebles and Bill Sutton and graduated in 1973 with a Diploma in Fine Art (Honours) majoring in painting.[3] Whilst at the University of Canterbury Kura, alongside Eruera Nia and Tame Iti became involved in Nga Tamatoa (Tuatoru) Christchurch chapter.[4] Her honours year was supervised by Rudi Gopas and her thesis focused on pre-European Māori art, specifically stone tool carving.[2] Kura states:

At the time it was restricting for Māori women to research carving because of the restriction of [it] being a male-only area. Today we are informed by Tohunga Whakairo that women have always carved. As Māori women we have to redefine our past so that we know where we stand now.[5]:4

In 1974 Kura completed study to be a secondary teacher at Christchurch Training College.[5]

Art career[edit]

Kura has exhibited extensively in New Zealand and internationally since 1985.[3] Her work is held in both private and public collections such as the Auckland Art Gallery and Te Papa Tongarewa.[6]

During the mid 1980s Kura and her contemporaries such as Shona Rapira Davies, Robyn Kahukiwa and Emily Karaka gave voice to the concerns surrounding Māori women's sovereignty. Megan Tamati-Quennell writes, "The space Te Waru Rewiri and her contemporaries occupied was really that of mana wāhine Māori".[4]:29

Influenced by the Ratana religious and political movement, her expressive paintings explore the effects of colonisation and portray the significance of taonga Māori.[2] As curator Nigel Borell writes, "Kura Te Waru Rewiri’s painting practice has forged new ways to understand and appreciate the scope of contemporary painting informed by Māori realities, beliefs and paradigms."[7]

In 2012 Mangere Art Centre Ngā Tohu o Uenuku held a survey exhibition of Kura's work curated by Nigel Borell. The accompanying publication KURA: Story of a Māori Women Artist include essays by prominent Māori curators, Megan Tamati-Quennell, Ngahiraka Mason and Dr Deidre Brown.[4]

In 2014 Kura's work featured in Five Māori Painters a major exhibition held at Auckland Art Gallery.[8]

Work life[edit]

From 1974 -1984 Kura taught in secondary schools across the North Island until she decided to paint full-time.[4] Kura also taught at Whanaganui Polytecnic and in 1993 she became the first Māori women to teach at Elam School of Fine Arts.[5] From 1996 to 2004 Kura lectured at Toioho ki Āpiti a Māori Visual Arts degree at Massey University's Palmerston North Campus alongside Robert Jahnke, Rachael Rakena and Shane Cotton.[9] Kura is currently a senior tutor in Maunga Kura Toi a Bachelor of Māori Art at Northtec Tai Tokerau Wānanga.[10] Kura is also a board member of Te Waka Toi the Māori arts board of Creative New Zealand.[11]


Kura uses symbols and techniques from traditional Māori art and custom in her works, such as Kowhaiwhai patterns, weaving imagery, and Tā moko patterns. In many of her works, her brushstrokes emulate the motions found in carving and weaving.

A recurring image seen in Kura's works is the cross, which carries many different meanings depending on its context and treatment.

Kura's use of traditional Māori art combined with the techniques of contemporary art results in a contrast between new and old that has made her work distinctive and celebrated within New Zealand.

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Warwick McLeod, 'Black and White: Dealing with differences', Art New Zealand, Autumn 1995, no. 74, pp. 51-53 (review of collaborative exhibition with Paul Johnson)
  • Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, 'Kura Te Waru Rewiri', Art New Zealand, Spring 1993, no. 68, pp. 91-93.


  1. ^ Smith, Huhana; Solomon, Oriwa; Tamarapa, Awhina; Tamati-Quennell, Megan; Walsh, John (2002). Taiāwhio. Conversations with Contemporary Māori Artists. Wellington: Te Papa Press. ISBN 0909010862. 
  2. ^ a b c Brown, Deidre; Ellis, Ngarino (2007). Te Puna. Māori Art from Te Tai Tokerau Northalnd. Auckland: Reed Publishing (NZ) LTD. pp. 98–101. ISBN 07900-1058-5. 
  3. ^ a b c "Artist Overview. Kura Te Waru Rewiri". Auckland Art Gallery. Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d Borell, Nigel; Tamati-Quennell, Megan; Mason, Ngahiraka; Brown, Deidre (2012). KURA: Story of a Māori Women Artist. Auckland: Mangere Art Centre. ISBN 9780473204044. 
  5. ^ a b c Highfield, Camilla (1999). Kura Te Waru Rewiri. A Māori Women Artist. Wellington: Gilt Edge Publishing. ISBN 0473065177. 
  6. ^ "Collections Online". Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  7. ^ Borell, Nigel. "The art of Kura Te Waru Rewiri". Mana Magazine. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Five Māori Painters". Auckland Art Gallery. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  9. ^ "Ferner Galleries: Kura Te Waru Rewiri". Ferner galleries. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  10. ^ "Northtec Profiles". Northtec Tai Tokerau Wānanga. Retrieved 13 June 2015. 
  11. ^ "Outstanding Native American Artist coming to our shores". Creative New Zealand. Retrieved 13 June 2015.