Kura Te Waru-Rewiri feels honoured to be dubbed ‘one of Aotearoa’s most celebrated artists’

Northland artist Kura Te Waru-Rewiri says Maori art is "everything I breathe", so being inducted into the Hall of Fame at Massey University's College of Creative Arts is "humbling".

Ms Te Waru-Rewiri, who spent 10 years lecturing at Toioho ki Apiti, the Maori Visual Arts programme at Massey's Palmerston North campus, from 1996 to 2006, has been described by the college as "one of Aotearoa's most celebrated Maori women artists" and was inducted along with four other alumni as part of the college's 130th anniversary celebrations at a special event in Wellington.

Ms Te Waru-Rewiri said she was "still on cloud nine" following the event and had been congratulated by her family, her marae and members of her iwi and hapu.

"It was such an honour and very humbling. The acknowledgement to me was my contribution to the arts nationally, not just as a Maori artist but as an artist, as an arts educator and arts academic."

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Ms Te Waru-Rewiri is the senior lecturer for NorthTec's bachelor of Maori art programme, Maunga Kura Toi, and last year was project manager of the refurbishment of NorthTec's Te Puna o Te Mataraunga marae, which features contemporary works throughout.

She said Maori art was extremely important to her: "It's everything that I breathe, I was born into it," she said.

Claire Robinson, pro vice-chancellor of the College of Creative Arts, said the college was proud of Kura's long association with the school.

"Your knowledge of pre-colonial art and its traditions included in your own contemporary arts practice have made your work not only distinctive, but also celebrated throughout New Zealand."

Ms Te Waru-Rewiri joins illustrious New Zealanders such as artists Manos Nathan and Len Lye, Sir Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop and fashion designer Kate Sylvester in the Hall of Fame. It was established in 2007 to celebrate Kiwis who have made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand's economy, reputation and identity through art, music and design.