Emily Karaka

Te Uri O Te Ao

Te Uri O Te Ao by Emily Karaka

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Emily Karaka powerfully combines art with politics as her exuberant protests and contestations spill out across large, loose canvasses. Responding to broken contracts with her ancestors from Tämaki makau-rau, Karaka paints a huge ruru or owl which hovers high on the canvas. The ruru is often a bearer of ill omen: here, wings spread to reveal a cacophony of painted cries, she looks out of the painting, weeping. At a time when the New Zealand government has privatised or sold off numerous publicly-owned assets, to the chagrin of many New Zealanders, Karaka weaves a dense tapestry of paint, criticising both past and present government practice; her overwhelming message, painted across the top of Te Uri o Te Ao, is 'This land is Mäori land'. Although drawing on modernist styles from Europe and the USA, and inspired by New Zealand painters Philip Clairmont, Allan Maddox and Colin McCahon, the art of Emily Karaka is born from indigenous struggle. She is sometimes tagged as New Zealand's 'difficult' artist but her concerns for indigenous sovereignty, personal freedom, and honouring political and social obligations are both individual and universal. Karaka's raw and edgy art is a conscience call to all New Zealanders. (from The Guide, 2001)

Te Uri O Te Ao
Production date
oil on canvas
3005 x 1898 x 35 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased with the assistance of Reader's Digest New Zealand Limited, 1997
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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