The scariest moment of Dr Maureen Lander's life was walking into a school art class of fifth formers as an adult student.
She was 30 years old and had been a primary school teacher for 10 years but had a newfound realisation that her passion lay in the arts.
Little did she know this would be the start of her journey to becoming an international identity in the realm of raranga (weaving) and installation arts.
"I truly never could have imagined my work would ever be on display."
Lander looks back on that decision to go back to school now and knows she would not be the artist she is today if not for that opportunity.
Now 50 years on, Lander is being made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her service to Māori art.
Lander's journey began back in the 1970s in the small suburb of Mangere in Auckland.
She had joined the Māori Women's Welfare League, along with the local multicultural club to get in touch with her culture.
It was here she picked up the passion and skills in weaving and various cultural art forms that would change her life.
She had never had a huge interest in her heritage until she moved to England for a brief time and realised she did not know enough about her whakapapa.
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"Delving into Māori art was part of my search for my own identity."
As the years followed, Lander went on to attend Elam School of Fine Arts and went on to display her work for the first time in an exhibition of Māori women's art.
"It was mostly men in the art world at that time... weaving was not even thought of as an art form."
She began to perfect her skills in whatu kākahu (cloak-making) after teachings from Diggeress Te Kanawa and before long, her work was being shown in a number of exhibitions locally and internationally.
In 2002, Lander gained a doctorate in Fine Arts from Auckland University, the first person of Māori descent to gain a doctorate in Fine Arts from a New Zealand university.
Her works have been shown in key exhibitions including Pu Manawa at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Pasifika Styles at the University of Cambridge's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Her exhibition Flat-Pack Whakapapa was still touring nationally.
She said knowledge recovery from historical works played a huge part in her techniques to this day.
Lander still has several projects going on and was even "weaving by Zoom" over lockdown to get the work done.
She recently moved to Whangamatā to "slow down" but instead found herself scoping out the harbourside flax bushes for weaving materials.
"I don't know if I'll ever stop."