Faculty of Arts


Exploring Pacific Art


This course highlights the intersections, relationships and connections between a wide and diverse range of Maori and Pacific art forms, including performance, tapa cloth, body adornment and contemporary gallery based art practices, and cultural concepts like Talanoa (open ended dialogue), Ta (temporal), Va (spatial), Kastom (customary practices) and Turangawaewae (‘a place to stand’, a sense of belonging or association grounded in one’s genealogy and tied to a particular place). It firmly positions Maori and Pacific artists, key exhibitions and art writers within an intersectional art historical framework, indigenous knowledge systems and the contemporary, global world.  

Themes explored include indigenous, migrant and diaspora voices, memory and notions of belonging, indigenous and decolonial thinking, gender, stereotypes and representation. These are discussed alongside relevant Pacific writers curators and theorists, including Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, Albert Wendt, Jim Vivieaere, Deidre Brown, Haunani Kay Trask and Epeli Hau’ofa.  Classes revolve around readings which are discussed and related to a range of art forms and practices.   We also visit a range of art galleries and museums. You are expected to have read and engaged with the relevant resources in preparation for class discussion each week.  


Coursework only

Availability 2021

Semester 1 and 2 (full year)


Coordinator(s) Dr Caroline Vercoe

Recommended Reading

·     Nigel Borell, ed. Te Atinga, 25 Years of Contemporary Maori Art.  Auckland: Toi Maori Aotearoa, 2014.

·     Ron Brownson, ed.  Home AKL: Artists of Pacific heritage in Auckland. Auckland: Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tamaki, 2012

·     Peter Brunt, Nicholas Thomas, eds.  Art in Oceania: A New History.  London: Thames and Hudson, 2012.

·     Sean Mallon and Pandora Pereira, eds.  Pacific Art Niu Sila: The Pacific Dimension of Contemporary New Zealand Arts.  New Zealand: Te Papa Press, 2002.

·     Hirini  Moko Mead and Bernie Kernot, eds. Te Maori.Maori Art from New Zealand Collections, Auckland: Heinemann, 1986.

·     Melissa Chiu, ed.  Paradise Now? Contemporary Art from the Pacific. New York: Asia Society Museum, 2004.

·     Queensland Art Gallery. My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Australia. South Brisbane, 2013.

·     Susan Cochrane.  Beretara: Contemporary Pacific Art.  Noumea: Centre Culture Tjibaou, 2001.

·     Karen Stevenson.  The Frangipani is Dead: Contemporary Pacific Art in New Zealand.  1985-2002.  New Zealand: Huia Press, 2008.

·     Ian McLean, ed.  How Aborigines Invented the Idea of Contemporary Art. Brisbane: IMA, 2011.


ARTHIST 730A: 15.0 points

ARTHIST 730B: 15.0 points

ARTHIST 730: 30.0 points

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