They [Michael Parekōwhai artworks] have a way of sneaking up on you, even when they're straight ahead. Pick-up sticks swollen to the size of spears. A photograph of a stuffed rabbit who has you in his sights. A silky bouquet that rustles with politics. Seemingly serene beneath their gleaming, factory-finished surfaces, Michael Parekōwhai's sculptures and photographs are in fact supremely artful objects. 'Artful' not just because they're beautifully made...but also because they manage, with a combination of slyness, charm and audacity, to spring ambushes that leave you richer. Justin Paton, Art New Zealand


Michael Parekōwhai was born in Porirua, New Zealand in 1968.  Michael is of European and Māori descent. He graduated with a BFA (1990) and MFA (2000) from Auckland University's Elam School of Fine Arts and holds the position of Associate Professor in Fine Arts at the University of Auckland. His exhibition history spans two decades of practice.

Michael's narratives can be complex; he draws on an abundant range of both vernacular and collective vocabularies which he re-manufactures into the narrative structures and formal languages of his work. Although key themes of his practice could be described as deliberate takes on notions of introduced species and culture, any potentially overt political dimensions are downplayed. Ideas of camaraderie, tools of teaching and childhood learning, as well as quotes from the canon of modern art history and popular culture openly play out in many of Michael's stories. While his work is often described as emphasising the extraordinariness of the ordinary, each body of work has layers of potential for meaning and significance - they are open to any depth of interpretation and storytelling.

Michael Parekōwhai is one of New Zealand's most important contemporary practitioners. In addition to an extensive exhibition history, his work is held in all significant public and private collections throughout New Zealand and Australia, as well as major works in permanent collections across the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Michael Parekōwhai has been included in many important exhibitions, including the Asia Pacific Triennial (2006-2007), the Gwangju Biennale (2004); Sydney Biennale (2002), Headlands, MCA, Sydney (1992); and the major art fairs in Basel, Art Basel (2006, 2007) and LISTE (2007). A major volume cataloguing Michael Parekowhai's practice was recently published by Michael Lett, Auckland (2007). Michael's work has been reviewed in most major international art periodicals, and covered by every major art periodical in Australasia.

Michael received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2001.  He represented New Zealand at the 2011 Venice Biennale with his work On First Looking into Chapman's Homer.


Michael Parekowhai's He Kōrero Purākau mo Te Awanui o Te Motu, Story of a New Zealand River, 2011 (Venice Biennale)


Jenny Harper, Commissioner for the Venice Bienalle project, describes the On First Looking into Chapmans Homer exhibition by Michael Parekowhai.
Born, Porirua, New Zealand
   Batchelor of Fine Arts, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland
Teaching Diploma, Auckland College of Education
Headlands, Musem of Contemporary Art, Sydney
Master of Fine Arts, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland
Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award
Sydney Biennale
The Gwangju Biennale
Associate Professor, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland
The Asia Pacific Triennial;Art Basel (Basel Art Fair);Major volume cataloguing practice published by Michael Lett, Auckland
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer, 54th Venice Biennale 2011, New Zealand Pavilion;Awarded the Premier of Queensland’s Sculpture Commission with proposed sculpture The World Turns
Three-storey sculpture, Tongue of the Dog, goes up in Hamilton