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August 23, 2008
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September 19, 2008

A client has asked me to design a Kowhaiwhai pattern based on their logo. I admit I had to look up exactly what a kowhaiwhai pattern was and found a useful but ugly page that got me sussed. Also found an interesting essay snippet (below) about the development of kowhaiwhai patterns. Check it out

New Zealand has a long history of Eurocentric appropriation and assimilation that has led koru and kowhaiwhai to become signifiers both of New Zealand Art and more widely New Zealand. It began with Sydney Parkinson’s drawings of kowhaiwhai painted paddles produced during Captain Cook’s 1769 voyage and continued to the present day with an excess of koru motifs advertising logos. Since the politically engaged 1980’s this appropriation of motifs by Pakeha artists have spurned great debate in New Zealand. Pakeha artists have been seen by many to have created works using koru and kowhaiwhai problematically placing the motifs in a distorted context.

Here’s where I got to:

My first kowhaiwhai pattern

My first kowhaiwhai pattern

3 Comments

  1. Kate Vavasour says:

    Hi,

    I was wondering if you would mind me sharing your image and how you designed it with my class of year 7 and 8’s. We are looking at different Kowhaiwhai and yours is neat.

    Many thanks,

    Kate Vavasour.

  2. Amo says:

    These Kowhaiwhai look a bit islander styles , a bit too embellished for Maori.

  3. Daemon says:

    The trick to Maori koru design lies in a balance between the positive and the negative space. Also, the kiwi ‘footprint’ is not an authentic Maori design, and the way the koru ‘grow’ from them is not an authentic Maori design.

    Without proper study of the forms, the excerpt still stands: Pakeha artists have been seen by many to have created works using koru and kowhaiwhai problematically placing the motifs in a distorted context.

    My suggestion would be to seek council with a proper Maori artist who is versed in traditional Maori design. Reading isn’t always the best way to learn, otherwise one is only emulating what one ‘thinks’ is right from only getting a small part of the overall picture.

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