• Matt Tini

For our first solo exhibition of 2023, we present two recent bodies of work: the sitters and untitled nudes by Pōneke-based artist Matt Tini (Waikato, Ngaati Tiipa, Ngāti Rakaipaaka, Ngāti Kahungunu). Matt is an early career artist and recent Masters of Fine Arts graduate from Massey University Wellington.

A quick image search of 'Māori people' online reveals photographs of dark-skinned individuals dressed in traditional attire, faces adorned with intricate tattoos, frozen in time through black and white or sepia tones. Alongside these are high-resolution, coloured photos of similar people performing customary Māori waiata and dance. However, in everyday life, one is more likely to encounter Māori people dressed in modern clothing and engaging in contemporary activities. This disconnect between historical representations and contemporary realities is what Matt addresses in re-coding the native.

The conventions of late 19th/early 20th-century New Zealand studio portrait photography are referenced in ‘the sitters’. These refined black and white portraits simulate the aesthetics of photographs of tūpuna (elders) taken by European settler photographers such as the Foy Brothers and Elizabeth Pulman. They are printed directly onto aluminium panels and have a sleek reflective quality.

In untitled nudes, Tini appropriates artworks by Western Orientalist painters such as Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and François Boucher and positions his fair-skinned, Māori, male, and Queer body against the exotic female nude. These photographs were taken with a mobile phone camera during the 2020 lockdown in the back room of his parents' house. In contrast to the studio portraits, these coloured photographs are playful, grainy and over-exposed in areas.

In re-coding the native, Matt challenges cultural codes and notions of authenticity that restrict contemporary expressions of identity. The exhibition questions colonial ideas of Indigeneity and agency, and asserts the realities of a contemporary Māori identity outside of colonialism's limiting parameters.

Opening Hours

  • Wednesday – Friday, 11am – 5pm
  • Saturday, 11am – 4pm


  • Level 1, 85 Victoria Street
  • Te Aro
  • Te Whanganui-A-Tara, Wellington