An artist has an obligation to the art of his or her people. It's the people's art. It doesn't belong to you. It must identify Māori to Māori if it is going to remain relevant about our tribal beliefs, values and mana in today's and tomorrow's world.Sandy Adsett, from Mataora: The Living Face. Witi Ihimaera (ed), Auckland: David Bateman Ltd, 1996.

Ko Cliff Whiting tētahi o ngā tohunga ringa toi Māori matua o roto i ngā rima tekau tau kua pahure ake nei. Nāna, otirā nā rātou ko ētahi o tōna reanga i para te huarahi hou mō ngā toi Māori, ā, mohoa noa nei. He kaha nōna ki te hāpai i ngā mahi toi o te marae i ngā kāinga maha puta noa i te motu, arā, te hanga wharenui hou me te whakarauora wharenui tawhito. He uri a Cliff nō roto i ngā kāwai rangatira o tōna hapū, o Te Whānau-a-Kaiaio, ko tōna iwi, ko Te Whānau-a-Apanui. Kua mau i a Cliff ngā tuku ihotanga o tana whakapapa hei tuakiri mōna, hei kawe i a ia ki roto i te ao whānui, i tū pakari ai ia i roto i ngā ākinga o te wā.

Cliff Whiting made an outstanding contribution to New Zealand Arts and Culture over a career spanning more than fifty years, in the fields of art education, art administration, marae building and renovation, and as an individual artist. Throughout Cliff's career, the observation made by Sandy Adsett quoted above has been an underlying ethic reflected in his work.

Born in 1936, in a whare raupō beside the Kereu river, inland from Te Kaha on the East Coast, Cliff showed early signs of having inherited the artistic creativity inherent in his whakapapa. This talent was nurtured, encouraged, and challenged by many along his journey, in particular by Pine Taiapa of Ngāti Porou and Gordon Tovey within arts education. Cliff developed a recognisable style of contemporary Māori art, based firmly on his Te Whānau-a-Apanui tribal traditions, which can be seen in his marae building, and his public and individual artworks. His style across a wide range of art forms, including wood carving, sculpture and construction, bone and stone carving, oil and watercolour, ink drawing, printmaking, fibre-weaving and photography, along with his innovative approaches to using new materials, has in turn been an inspiration to many younger and aspiring New Zealand artists.

In 1998, Cliff was appointed to The Order of New Zealand. He was a long-serving member and the order can only have a maximum of 20 living members at any time.

Cliff contributed his expertise and time to a large number of marae building and renovation projects, he served on numerous national arts committees, and was the first Kaihautū of Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand, working tirelessly to establish a fully bicultural kaupapa as a foundation stone for the institution. His many large scale works are displayed in numerous locations around New Zealand including the National Library, the Christchurch High Court, the Beehive, Television New Zealand, and the visitors centre at Aoraki Mt Cook.

 

Te Wehenga o Rangi rāua ko Papa. Mixed media mural 1975, 7075 x 2590mm
Collection of the National Library of New Zealand

Cliff Whiting: He Toi Nuku He Toi Rangi, a biography of Cliff celebrating his work and contribution to the arts was published on 15 November 2013.

Cliff passed away at the age of 81 on 16 July 2017.

 

Video

2010
Due to the refurbishment of Archives Wellington office Cliff Whitings Maori Battalion art work had to dismantled while the work was being completed. This is around 6 hours work compressed into 2 minutes
1936
       Born, Te Pohue, Te Whānau-a-Apanui, East Coast
1954 
      Winner, NZ Secondary Schools art competition
1956
       Exhibition with Mervyn Taylor, NZ Academy of Fine Arts
1961  
     Solo exhibition, Chez Elco restaurant, Nelson
1965 
      Exhibition with Para Matchitt, Wellington
1975 
      Māori Artisits and Writers exhibition, National Art Gallery;Exhibition,Te Wehenga o Rangi rāua ko Papa, South Pacific Festival of the Arts, Rotorua
1984   
   Tāwhirimātea, mixed media mural installation NZ Meteorological Office, Wellington
1986  
     Te Ao Mārama exhibition, Sydney Opera House
1986
      Alan Highet Award for excellence in the arts
1988  
     Te Ao o ngā Atua, mixed media mural installation, Christchurch Polytechnic
1990
       Installation of:Kupe, mixed media mural in the Beehive, Wellington;Maumahara, mixed media mural, Archives NZ, Wellington;Ngā Kete Wānanga, Christchurch High Court
1991 
      Opening Marukaitātea wharenui, Takahanga marae, Kaikōura;Aoraki, mixed media mural installation, Department of Conservation visitors centre, Mount Cook
1994
      Te Waka Toi: Exhibition of Contemporary Māori Art, City Gallery, Wellington
1996 
      Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa), Massey University
1997 
     Opening, Te Hono ki Hawaiki meeting house at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of NZ
1998 
      Order of New Zealand for services to the Arts
2001 
      Opening, Tahu Pōtiki wharenui and Te Rau Aroha wharekai at Awarua, Bluff
2003 
      Te Tohu Tiketike a Te Waka Toi, Waka Toi exemplary award
2004
       Honorary life membership,  NZ Historic Places Trust
2013
      Arts Foundation of NZ Icon Award. Recipients of the award are artists, recognised as leaders in their fields

Awards