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Archaeology has inspired some New Zealand art. Some others can be found on Archaeopedia's Kitsch page.

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Shane Cotton is a painter with Maori ancestry. His works have dense use of symbolism much of it drawing on Maori heritage. Some paintings reference the volcanic cones of the inland Bay of Islands, his ancestral territory. These are the sites of pa, some named in his paintings[1].

Thomas Selby Cousins 1840-1897. Cousins depicted the Waikari cave drawings in North Canterbury in 1876. He showed a reconstruction of Maori at the shelter - perhaps the first re-constructive depiction. See See.

Robert Ellis has produced many paintings in a theme of Rakaumangamanga - a pa site in Northland near Cape Brett. An example more clearly illustrative than some, is in Te Papa[2].

Carol Fletcher is a Raglan based artist. In some of her output she works with found objects - the sort of items that archaeologists conserve from sites or pick up on field surveys. She displays these in the form of arrays or organised series as if the objects were being formally classified. Brown (2009:128)[3] notes her training is in mathematics and anthropology but not archaeology. Her art perhaps reflects that of Susan Hiller who too came to art from anthropology and produced early works drawing from archaeology[4].

Russell Jackson often includes pa sites in his landscapes. An example - a picture of Mt Eden/Maungawhau is here[5].

"Russell Jackson draws his subject matter from his interest in ornithology and archaeology. He is especially known for his coastal landscapes and birdlife rendered with a particularly New Zealand feel, in enamel paint[6]".

Commemorative Tumulus" by the wonderful Reg Mombassa - surely inspired by pa sites.

Selwyn Muru drew widely on aspects of Maori art but particularly including rock art motifs in his 1960's paintings. This is an example.

Alvin Pankhurst uses images of historic Maori carvings set in natural landscapes in a way that often suggests they are in an 'found' context - an imagined archaeology. Alvin Pankhurst Studio Gallery

Michael Shepherd uses historical imagery, particularly from his own experience and around his Ngaruawhahia birthplace in his painting. Pa sites and New Zealand Wars sites appear. Bell[7] has written about his art.

Shepherd in the Auckland Art Gallery Collections

William Alexander Sutton 1917-2000 was a leading Canterbury artist and teacher[8]. Waikari cave drawings was also his subject in 1951, early in his exploration of the North Canterbury landscape which was a consistent theme in his art [9]. See.

Dennis Knight Turner utilised rock art imagery in some 1950's paintings. Turner.jpg

Gordon Walters 1919 - 1995. Walters is a major figure in 20th century New Zealand art. His art combines Maori symbols into geometric abstract art. His introduction to Maori figures came in 1946 on a visit to Theo Schoon who was photographing Maori rock art at Opihi River. [10]


  1. Anon 2003 Shane Cotton. Victoria University Press, Wellington.
  2. Accessed May 2010.
  3. Brown, Warwick, 2009 Seen this century, 100 contemporary New Zealand artists, a collectors guide. Random House, Auckland.
  4. [1]Accessed August 2010
  5. Accessed May 2010.
  6. Accesssed May 2010.
  7. Bell, Claudia 2005 Excavating the Past Gilt Edge Publishing, Wellington.
  8. Wikipedia entry
  9. Johnstone, C 2013 Landscape Paintings of New Zealand Godwit p204
  10. Wikipedia article, Gordon Walters