A brief history of Māori art


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Before there was ever a written language, there was art.

Art has always been an astonishing way to communicate — it sings, yells, and rejoices.

If you listen closely, you can hear the sounds the artist made as each brush stroke hit the canvas.

Look around to find that special NZ artwork for sale that speaks to you.

The history of New Zealand art

There are so many NZ paintings for sale — some with history, some with mystery, but all with a story.

To tell the rich history of art in New Zealand cannot be done without telling the history of the Māori.

The Māori arrived between 1250-1300 CE, bringing art, dance, food, and music from the Polynesian islands.

Māori art is highly spiritual. Much of their art draws inspiration from nature. It is made with a repetition of lines that form distinct shapes with symbolic meaning.

This art is passed down from one generation to the next, with influence from the Irish and British.

Māori art comes in four forms — tattooing, carving, weaving, and painting. It speaks of ancestry and important cultural aspects with red, black, and white colors.

Painting was not a major part of their history until the Europeans introduced figurative painting. Before this, painting was reserved mostly for decoration.

A bit about Māori patterns

Current art is a mix of Māori traditions and contemporary notions.

The patterns in Māori art have different meanings — traditionally from Aotearoa, New Zealand.

These patterns are typically repeated throughout each piece. They can tell stories of the Māori history.

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Each symbol can be found throughout New Zealand and has a different meaning.

Some of these symbols are:

  • Koru — based on an unfurled fern shoot. It’s used to depict waves in the ocean and energy and can even represent family members
  • Koiri — is a repeating pattern that turns onto itself. It’s used for self-reflection, nurturing, and flourishing.
  • Pātiki — this symbol represents the flounder and symbolizes generosity, abundant hospitality, and favorable times.
  • And Rauru — similar in meaning to Koru, the shape of it is similar to a spiral. It represents new life, growth, and peace.

Listen while it speaks.

These are just a few; several other symbols have rich meanings.

All art, especially from the Māori, has a language, story, and voice of its own.

Art is created by the artist to have one meaning but also speaks to the hearts of others with its translation.

If you listen close enough to a painting, it will speak to you.

While looking at NZ artwork for sale, listen closely to the symbols and colors — hear the message it gives your heart.

Art has been an expression of life, love, and history since time began.

It had its start as a way of telling stories and history.

Find the NZ artwork for sale that calls your name today. You’re sure to find the perfect NZ paintings for sale that not only tell their own story but yours too.


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