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JULIE PAAMA-PENGELLY | MĀORI VISUAL ARTIST

Lives: Tauranga - Māori descent: Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Tūwhiawhia, Ngāti Tauaiti, Ngāti Tapu

Māori visual artist with Toi Iho certification (Māori quality and authentication trademark) for Tā moko, design and multimedia arts and provides Māori arts education, curatorial and writing leadership.

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“Was a very professional heartwarming experience I’m very happy to be gifted my moko kauae”
- Shfire S.
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“You can’t understand Māori art without looking at the way spaces - such as buildings and sites - make sense of the art within and around them through the encounters we are invited to have with them and each other”
Toi Iho Accredited - Visual Artist
Toi Iho™ Māori Made

Julie Paama-Pengelly is proud to carry the Toi Iho Mark - the registered and globally recognised trademark of quality and authenticity of Māori art and artists. It is acknowledged as an exceptional cultural initiative by and for Indigenous NZ Māori by WIPO, the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva.

 

Toi Iho distinguishes the work of Māori from others in the marketplace. It seeks to protect Māori art from misappropriation and copycat non-Māori. Rest assured - if you purchase mahi from this website - know that you are purchasing authentic Māori artwork and directly supporting the artist.

“My art is about how Māori might reclaim their voice in contemporary space and time, it is a deeply spiritual exploration, often political, exploring the tensions of being Māori today"
  • What one question would you add to this interview?
    What motivates you to be an artist? My answer: the prosperity and development of a healthy future for Māori people.
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  • What is missing or lacking from your Bay of Plenty community or environment?
    A compelling and extensive representation of Māori artistic history on the visual landscape. Our environment says a great deal about what we care about and to not bring the continuous stories of Maori to prevalence in our landscape excludes Maori from having a living, breathing relevance as the founding people or tangata whenua of this country. Most people would be oblivious to the monocultural nature of the artistic, architectural and contextual landscape around us but for Maori, with nature as their canvas, they no longer have the authority to vitalise their visual stories as geographical reality and essential being.
  • What are you planning for 2021 that nobody knows about yet?
    Radical change… but I’m not sure what that looks like…
  • Where would you like to live, but have yet to?
    Tahiti
  • What word of advice would you offer an aspiring creative person?
    Finding a reputable course or teacher/mentor is a must, and think ‘creatively’ as this is a state of mind that is eroded constantly by the ways of being within normal everyday society. Question everything because creative thinkers model better ways and better futures.
  • Who are your most favourite or admired figures from history?
    Rua Kenana, the Māori prophet. Te Kooti, prophet and leader who changed the nature of Māori art. Nelson Mandala and Te Hikapuhi of Ngati Pikiao (who was a proud woman tohunga healer and tā moko, and refused to stop practicing even when laws were passed to outlaw Māori practices).
  • In one sentence, can you define art?
    An encoded visual language and repertoire of a cultural person used to challenge and express their beliefs and sense of belonging.
  • Looking back at your childhood self: what one sentence describes that person?
    Insular, shy and over thinker with super observational creative powers because I was an only child in my own world; left to my colouring books, reading and own devices a lot.
  • If the Prime Minister asked you to make up a new policy or law for New Zealand, what would it be?
    That the state would ensure the care of the wellbeing of its citizens and the interests of tangata whenua foremost in all of its policy undertakings.
  • If you had to eat the same meal everyday, what would it be?
    Sounds terrible but I’m a big vegetable fan—and I consume vegetable juice every day. I don’t think I could survive on this alone, so I would have to say fresh fish and mangoes which currently I consume in abundance in Tahiti
  • What's the biggest problem about life in New Zealand? How would you solve it?
    Our society based on the world economic ideology and monetary economy where members of our nation are considered hostile to the state. This breeds mistrust and divisiveness, and creativity is thereby relegated to contra-state behaviour. We should take the lessons of Covid as an opportunity to align more with the philosophies of Finland where the state represents the well-being of its citizens with a social security system to match—to intervene on behalf of the people so friction and inequalities are broken down and creativity, self-sufficiency and respect for the earth underpins our being…
  • Name a few films that you consider profound, moving or extraordinary?
    Rabbit Proof Fence, Malcolm X, Cry Freedom and Avatar (obviously for very different reasons).
  • What is your dream of happiness?
    Painting and swimming in warmth every day
  • What was your first real job, second, third?
    Visual Merchandiser (flash word for window dresser) at D.I.C. Palmerston North, Fashion Designer for Brats Fashion in Palmerston North, Physical Education relief teacher at Stratford High School.
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About Julie

Julie Paama-Pengelly is a veteran in the revitalisation of tā moko Māori tattooing. Her studio in Mount Maunganui mixes contemporary and traditional designs and cultivates artists from all walks of life.

With expansive teaching experience, her art practice ranges from the use of symbolic imagery to pure abstraction in graphic design, painting, mixed media, and tattooing.

Over time many misconceptions have surfaced about who has the right to wear and practice tā moko. Julie is one of the first women to practice in the male-dominated field. She is a strong voice for Māori women’s rights and continues to break down barriers to give women a place in tā moko and in the arts.

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