* Taiawhio II: Contemporary Maori Artists - 18 New Conversations.
* General editor Huhana Smith, with Oriwa Solomon, Awhina Tamarapa and Megan Tamati-Quennell. Photography by Norman Heke.
* Te Papa Press $70.
In 2002, Te Papa released a handsome volume, Taiawhio: Conversations with Contemporary Maori Artists, in which 17 practitioners discussed their craft.
Seventeen was just the tip of the taiawhio, the "encircling spiral shape", and this equally elegant sequel features 18 artists - in alphabetical order - who excel in their various forms of practice: painting, clay-making, carving, sculpture, multi-media, fibre art and dance.
Te Papa art and collection services director Jonathan Mane-Wheoki introduces the collection by saying, "Whakapapa (genealogy), tikanga (custom) and taonga (cultural treasures) provide constant reference points and principles for Maori artists. This is so whether they are carvers or weavers working in a customary manner with traditional materials and techniques, or whether they are painters, sculptors, photographers, or performance, installation or new media artists whose work is commodified for 'consumption' within the urban context of public and dealer art galleries."
Taiawhio II opens with a dedication to teacher Cath Brown, who died in 2004 after many years of advocacy of Maori arts and craft. She was one of the "Tovey generation" - after Gordon Tovey, the national supervisor for arts and crafts in the education department from 1946-66. So was Sandy Adsett, the most senior artist in this book, a prominent painter who runs the Toimairangi School of Maori Visual Culture in Hastings.
The influential performance group Atamira Dance Collective follows, with an outline of its history and objectives complemented by stunning images. Next comes Nigel Borell whose delicate paintings marry text in which he discusses his holistic approach, a concept he says "a lot of the Pakeha students don't understand".
Sculptor Chris Bryant, who teaches with Sandy Adsett at Toimairangi, describes how he paints with fire, "a style I've developed based on the principle of ahi ka" - keeping the home fires burning.
Clay sculptor Paerau Corneal affirms the "authority, intelligence and vision expressed by Maori women in their diverse roles", while superstar Shane Cotton relates how he is not entirely comfortable with his reputation for making "historically inflected paintings".
"History may be a starting point," he states, "a point of engagement, but it's never the end point."
Sculptor Brett Graham draws inspiration from his father Fred, who featured in the first Taiawhio, and tells how his dad's generation - including Para Matchitt and Selwyn Muru - distinguished their work as "not Maori. They come out of that period where the label 'Maori artist' was almost a slur."
Multi-media artist Robert Jahnke, professor of Massey University's School of Maori Studies, studied film in California, and much of his work explores the the impact of Christianity on Maori culture. The images of his work are exceptionally powerful, as are those in the next chapter of the works of Rangi Kipa, carver of wood, bone, the synthetic Corian and resin.
Ceramics fire up Manos Nathan, who uses the medium to represent cultural and oral traditions, and to teach "disenfranchised youth".
Julie Paama-Pengelly critiques colonialism through her multiple methods of practice - painting, moko, installations - but says her work is not protest art. Instead, she attacks symbols of the process - smoking, alcohol - and has pushed herself into controversy as one of the few female practitioners of ta moko.
Reuben Paterson, whose shows at the Gow Langsford Gallery consistently dazzle, is here too, telling how his glitter and diamond dust are appropriate materials in a modernist tradition. Paterson's recent works have moved away from kowhaiwhai towards fabric patterns - a reference to the genealogy of his mother, who he never met.
Moving image maker Rachael Rakena often collaborates with choreographers and dancers, including Atamira, and musicians such as Paddy Free and Richard Nunns. Most recently, she partnered with Brett Graham for the Aniwaniwa installation, showing at the Venice Biennale. She has interesting anecdotes about her work, including an installation with Pacific Island artists in Sydney.
Chapters on Lisa Reihana, Ngataiharuru Taepa, Wi Te Tau Pirika Taepa, Colleen Waata-Urlich and Christina Wirihana complete the collection, rounding off a sophisticated and varied confirmation of the thriving condition of Maori art. Taiawhio II is a beautifully produced reference work, and an astute overview of a culture where the label "Maori artist" is a matter of pride, not a slur. Lovely to look at, plenty to learn. Surely there will be a Taiawhio III one day.