Art has always been an integral component of Maori culture. Traditional Maori art was created using the materials available at the time, such as wood, bone, pounamu (jade or greenstone), paua (abalone) shell, flax, and feathers. Today, a greater variety of materials are used, although many artists continue to use these traditional materials today.
The colours black, red and white feature strongly in Maori art. The colour red is a symbol of mana (prestige, power, status) and is therefore often used in the decoration of important items such as the buildings and structures around a marae (courtyard where formal greetings and discussions take place) and waka (canoes).
One of the most exciting aspects of contemporary Maori culture is art. New, highly talented Maori artists continue to join the ranks of the established names in the world of Maori art, and together they are forging an international reputation due the exceptional quality of their work.
Toi Maori Aotearoa contains some fine examples of contemporary Maori art that are testament to the abilities of a new generation of Maori artists.