Maureen Lander

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Maureen Lander
Rawene, New Zealand
EducationElam School of Fine Arts
Known forArts

Dr. Maureen Lander was born in 1942 in Rawene, New Zealand. She is a weaver, multimedia installation artist and academic of Ngāpuhi, Te Hikitu, Irish, Scottish and English (Yorkshire) descent.[1] Lander is a well-respected and significant Māori artist who since 1986 has exhibited, photographed, written and taught Māori art.[2] She continues to produce and exhibit work as well as attend residencies and symposia both nationally and internationally.[3]


Lander began learning weaving with noted Māori weaver Diggeress Te Kanawa in 1984 and spent many years researching fibre arts.[2] In 2002 she was the first person of Māori descent to gain a Doctorate in Fine Arts at a New Zealand university.[4]

  • 1963 Wellington Teachers College
  • 1987 Bachelor of Fine Arts (Photography) Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland.
  • 1989 Bachelor of Arts in Māori Studies, University of Auckland.
  • 1993 Masters of Fine Arts (Sculpture), First Class Honours, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland.[5]
  • 2002 Doctor of Fine Arts, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland [6]

Career as an educator[edit]

Lander worked as a teacher before attending Elam School of Fine Arts.[1] From 1986 she worked as a photographer for the University of Auckland's Department of Anthropology.[4] She taught Māori fibre arts over many years, mainly in the Māori Studies Department at the University of Auckland where she was a Senior Lecturer in Māori Material Culture. In 2007 she retired from university lecturing.[2]


Lander was first introduced to muka (flax fibre) by noted weaver Diggeress Te Kanawa in 1984, when she went to stay several times with the senior artist at Ohaki Maori village, near Waitomo and learned the basics of preparing materials and techniques such as whatu (finger twining). [7] Her end of year installation at Elam, titled Te Kohanga Harakeke ('The Flax Nest') included a structure covered in milled flax in the shape of a massive inverted nest, which sheltered a young harakeke (flax) plant.[7]

Lander's first public art exhibition was as part of the group exhibition Karanga Karanga at the Fisher Gallery (now Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Pakuranga, Auckland) in 1986.[7] She describes her three decades working with muka as a 'journey of discovery'.[2] In a recent artist statement Lander said:

I was seduced by the beauty and magic of muka. My first public installation in 1986 – E kore koe e ngaro he kakano i ruia mai i Rangiatea in the Karanga, Karanga exhibition – featured whenu (warp threads) and aho (weft threads) that I had carefully prepared to make my first korowai. Instead, I suspended them in an ethereal cloud-like formation over a swirl of flax seed.[2]

In 1998 art historian Priscilla Pitts wrote that Lander's combination of 'conventional university art school' study and training with traditional Māori weavers was reflected in her work:

Though much of her work is a response to weaving arts, Lander seldom actually weaves - at least, in the works she exhibits in gallery spaces. Rather, she uses, often to astonishing effect, the materials used in traditional Maori weaving and dying. These include pingao and feathers, but most of all harakeke (New Zealand flax) in all its forms - its leaves, its handsome flower and seed heads, the seeds and muka (the fine silky fibre obtained from the leaves). With these she combines materials from the Western world.[8]:103

Pitts gives Lander's 1994 work This is not a kete, made for the exhibition Art Now at the former Museum of New Zealand (now the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) as an example of the way her work combines traditional Māori crafts and Western sculptural or installation practices.[8]:104–5 Lander's work plays on Rene Magritte's famous painting Ceci n'est pas une pipe with a woven kete (flax basket) placed on top of a plinth with the words 'This is not a kete' inscribed on it. More kete were arranged on the floor of the gallery and dramatically lit. Pitts writes

'Here, in the context of the art exhibition, 'practical' objects - simple woven flax bags - are elevated to the status of art objects. ... However, this particular art exhibition was located in what was also an ethnography and history museum, within which the collection, cataloguing, and display of things like kete divorces them from their cultural, spiritual and/or utilitarian contexts and transforms them into artefacts.[8]:104

In 2006 Lander was one of fifteen New Zealand artists, most of Māori and Pacific Island descent, who were invited to take part in the Pasifika Styles exhibition by making site-specific works throughout the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge that responded to objects in the museum's collection.[9] For the exhibition Lander reworked two previous commissions, This is not a kete and pieces from Mrs Cook's kete, a 2002 collaboration with Christine Hellyar at the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University. Lander also made new pieces, including the site-specific installations Airy-Theory Artefacts (woven objects suspended in front of a screened window) and Tane Raises His Eyebrows (a crescent-shaped weaving placed over a decorative wooden door lintel).[9]:25, 61 She also made a piece titled Crown Grab Bag for the exhibition, a large woven crown placed on a royal purple silk pillow with gold tassels. In the publication accompanying the exhibition, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology curator Anita Herle wrote

The work references the New Zealand Foreshore and Seabed Act of 2004, which empowered the New Zealand government, 'the Crown', to override tribal rights to pursue customary claims to the foreshore and seabed through the courts. Lander's crown is delicately woven from a variety of fibres, including plant materials that grow along the foreshore - the creation of the crown itself is thus a subtle but defiant act of re-appropriation. Shells and fishing hooks from the museum's collection are placed on the base of the case. Strands of pingao fibre, stitched into the fabric lining at the back of the case, form inverted U-shapes representing the raised eyebrows of Tane (god of the forest). According to Māori legend, following a dispute between Tane and Tangaroa (god of the sea) Tane's eyebrows were flung onto the sand dunes, which mark the liminal space between the forest and the sea. Here Lander connects contemporary political conflicts to legendary battles.[9]:66–67

Responding to objects and taonga held in cultural institutions' collections remains a strong feature of Lander's work. In a 2015 exhibition at the National Library of New Zealand (a collaboration with Christine Hellyar and Jo Torr) Lander made a number of works relating to works in the library's art and archival collections.[10] Her piece Hariata’s War Garb is inspired by Joseph Merrett's 1846 watercolour The Warrior Chieftains of New Zealand.[11] The portrait depicts Hone Heke, the chief Kawiti, and Heke's wife Hariata. Hariata is shown wearing a woven sash unlike anything Lander had seen before. Researching her own family history, Lander found descriptions of Hariata written by her great-great grandfather James Johnston Fergusson. One document describes Hariata leading 700 men; another as being ‘young, tall, and rather goodlooking’, wearing ‘a tartan dress with red sash slung around her shoulders like a shepherd’s plaid’. Lander recreated the sash for the exhibition, along with a number of other pieces.[10][12] In a review of the exhibition art historian Jill Trevelyan noted that Lander drew on her own experience learning weaving under Diggeress Te Kanawa to produce the works Rongo's samplers, a reimagining of the first works produced by a new practitioner.[13]

Selected Exhibitions[edit]

Lander began exhibiting her artwork in 1986.[14] Having exhibited both nationally and internationally, Lander currently enjoys exhibiting with other artists in the small communities around the Hokianga where her ancestors lived.[2]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Lander, M.R. Horeke or Kohukohu? Charles Heaphy's "View of the Kahukahu, Hokianga River 1839", Turnbull Library Record, Vol XXII, No 1:33-40, 1989
  • Lander, M.R. Fibre Fragments from the Raupa Site, Hauraki Plains, Records of the Auckland Institute and Museum, Vol 29, pp. 7–23, 1992.
  • Lander, M.R. & Wood, B. Glorified Scales Auckland: Maureen Lander, 2001
  • Lander, M.R., Sullivan, R, & Wood, B. Shade House Whangarei: Whangarei Art Museum, 2004
  • Lander, M.R. & Maihi, T. He Kete He Korero Auckland: Reed Publishing, 2005
  • Lander, M. R. 'Te Ao Tawhito/Te Ao Hou. Entwined Threads of Tradition and Innovation' in Whatu Kakahu/Māori Cloaks (ed. Awhina Tamarapa), Wellington: Te Papa Press 2011, pp. 60–73 ISBN 9781877385568


  • 2002 Inaugural Māori Academic Excellence Award (Fine Arts, Music & Performing Arts), ‘Te Tohu Toi Ururangi’ sponsored by Toi Maori.
  • 1992 Graduate Scholarship, University of Auckland
  • 1985 Senior Prize in Fine Arts, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland
  • 1984 Annual Prize in Māori Studies, University of Auckland


  • 2013 Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney.
  • 2010 ARC Artist-in-Parks residency, Titirangi.
  • 2010 Artist-in-Residence, Parramatta Artists’ Studios, West Sydney.
  • 2009 Hancock Fellow at the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne.
  • 2006 Pasifika Styles at CUMAA.
  • 2006 Kilmartin House Museum in Scotland
  • 2002 Artist in Residence, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Nelson.
  • 1996 The Performance Space Centre, Redfern, Sydney.

Further information[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Tamati-Quennell, Megan (1993). Pū Manawa. Wellington: Huia Publishers. ISBN 0-909010-00-5.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Maureen Lander - Biography". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
  3. ^ a b "Towards the Morning Sun". Cambletown Arts Centre.
  4. ^ a b "Maureen Lander". Auckland Art Gallery.
  5. ^ "Lander, Maureen". Massey University Library.
  6. ^ "Lander, Maureen". The University of Auckland Library.
  7. ^ a b c Pitts, Priscilla (Autumn 2019). "Her Story: Maureen Lander in Conversation with Priscilla Pitts". Art New Zealand (169): 46–53.
  8. ^ a b c Pitts, Priscilla (1998). Contemporary New Zealand sculpture : themes and issues. Auckland: David Bateman Ltd. ISBN 1869531698.
  9. ^ a b c Raymond, Rosanna; Salmond, Amiria (2008). Pasifika Styles. Cambridge and Dunedin: University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; Otago University Press. ISBN 0947595155.
  10. ^ a b Amery, Mark (3 June 2015). "Tails that bind". The Big Idea. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  11. ^ "[Merrett, Joseph Jenner] 1815-1854 :The warrior chieftains of New Zealand. [1846]". National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Review of 'Tell tails' on Nine to Noon, National Radio". Radio New Zealand National. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 19 June 2015.
  13. ^ Trevelyan, Jill (Spring 2015). "Telling Tales: Maureen Lander, Jo Torr & Christine Hellyar at the Turnbull". Art New Zealand (155): 90–93.
  14. ^ "Maureen Lander - Biography". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  15. ^ "Maureen Lander: Flat-Pack Whakapapa". The Dowse Art Museums. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  16. ^ "The Delicate Balance of Wobbling Stars: An exhibition by Maureen Lander". The Big Idea. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  17. ^ "Te Wā Tōiri: Fluid Horizons". Auckland Art Gallery. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  18. ^ "Tell Tails". National Library of New Zealand. Retrieved 26 May 2015.
  19. ^ "Flag it!". Depot Art Space. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  20. ^ Willis, Kenny (2013). Whetū, Whenu, Whenua: Stars, Strands, Land - A Contemporary approach to weaving. Auckland: Lopdell House Gallery. ISBN 9780987659767.
  21. ^ "Te Taumata Exhibition Series". Northart Gallery.
  22. ^ a b "Artist Inspired by Local Landmarks". The Big Idea, Te Aria Nui. 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  23. ^ Morrow, Margaret; O'Sullivan, Vincent; Lander, Maureen (2009). Hotere Country: An exhibition featuring Ralph Hoter's 'Song of Solomon'. Hokianga: Village Arts. ISBN 9780473156541.
  24. ^ Kauwau Group (2009). Kauwae 09 : a series of three exhibitions from the Kauwae Group, a national collective of Māori women artists. Manukau: Kauwae Group.
  25. ^ Packer, Ann (2008). POST stitch: an exhibition of contemporary New Zealand stitched work. Waitakere: Lopdell House Gallery. ISBN 9780958289535.
  26. ^ Reed, Michael; Stevenson, Karen (2009). Conversations Across Time: Whakawhiti Körero. Christchurch: Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology. ISBN 9780908668724.
  27. ^ Raymond, Rosanna; Salmond, Amiria (2008). Pasifika Styles: Artists inside the museum. Dunedin: Otago University Press. ISBN 978-1-877372-60-5.
  28. ^ "Palm Lines". The University of Auckland Library.
  29. ^ Lander, Maureen; Wood, Brian; Sullivan, Robert (2004). Shade House. Whangarei: Whangarei Art Museum. ISBN 0958252300.
  30. ^ Evans, Miriama; Ngarimu, Ranui; Heke, Norm (2005). The art of Māori weaving : the eternal thread = te aho mutunga kore. Wellington: Huia Publishers. ISBN 186969161X.
  31. ^ Hellyar, Christine; Lander, Maureen (2002). Mrs Cook's kete : artists' installation at the Pitt Rivers Museum, 2 November 2002 to 27 April 2003. Oxford, England: Pitt Rivers Museum.
  32. ^ Mason, Ngahiraka; Ellis, Ngarino; Kisler, Mary (2001). Purangiaho: seeing clearly: casting light on the legacy of tradition in contemporary Maori art. Auckland: Auckland Art Gallery. ISBN 0864632452.
  33. ^ Lander, Maureen; Maihi, Toi Te Rito; TwoTrees, Kaylynn (1998). Haze: Maureen Lander, Toi Te Rito Maihi, Kaylynn TwoTrees. Auckland: Auckland Art Gallery. ISBN 0864632215.
  34. ^ Lander, Maureen; Pitts, Priscilla (1998). Maureen Lander : ngā uri o r̄ahiri : Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, 25 October 1997 – 16 February 1998. New Plymouth: Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. ISBN 0908848242.
  35. ^ Hubbard, George; Johnston, Alexa; Jahnke, Robert (1996). Korurangi: New Māori Art. Auckland: Auckland Art gallery. ISBN 086463210X.
  36. ^ Sayles, Jane (1994–1995). "In Search of Wonderland: Art Now at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa". Art New Zealand. 73: 62–65.
  37. ^ Te Ao, Ngapine Tamihana (Spring 1993). "Pu Manawa: The Heart on the Margins". Art New Zealand. 68: 58–61.
  38. ^ "Alter/Image". City Gallery Wellington. Retrieved 25 December 2015.