Regional | Art

Award-winning artist slammed for Māori cultural appropriated artwork

Canterbury-based artist Rhonye McIlroy has been the face of backlash after a display of Māori cultural appropriated artwork.

McIlroy's art was recently on display at Christchurch's Windsor Gallery but was immediately taken down after local iwi member Atama Moa informed them of McIlroy's lack of consultation with Iwi.

The theme for her Māori artwork is a combination of female erotica, moko kauae and mataora, and colonisation.

Windsor Gallery spokesperson said they were not aware that McIlroy didn't undergo a proper process to ensure her artwork was safe to put out to the public.

"We understand the harm that it has caused," the spokesperson said.

Moa says he was "disappointed to see our moko sexualised."

"I've tried to contact the artist but unfortunately she has blocked me from getting in contact.

"It's a real shame that she doesn't want to have a kōrero."

Facebook page 'OUR CULTURE IS NOT YOUR PAYCHECK' was made aware of the incident and founder Te Hamua Nikora says, "Pākehā have occupied this country for too long to be misappropriating."

"We walk a fine line between art and sacred taonga," he says.

Moa advises non-Māori to be educated and be open to korero with Māori communities.

"Enquire with a Māori person first. Ask them, 'Is this appropriate?'"

Tapatahi has made attempts to contact Ms McIlroy however she is yet to respond.