"Rangi is an artist leading transformative change in Aotearoa. His work—at small and monumental scale—gives shape to Māori cultural aspirations, and engineers new ways to operate in Aotearoa." - 2021 Selection Panel
Receiving the 2021 Arts Foundation Laureate Award for Ngā Toi Māori
Raised in Waitara in Taranaki, Kipa made his national debut as a contemporary Māori artist in the 1996 exhibition, Patua: Māori Art in Action at City Gallery Wellington. Rangi’s rei puta – intricately carved whale teeth pendants with delicate chevron-based ridged designs readily traced back to Eastern Polynesia – immediately commanded the attention of Māori art leaders and general visitors alike. He also practised tā moko in the gallery for the duration of the three-week exhibition. Returning to Taranaki in 2000, Rangi became a founding member of Te Uhi ā Mataora, the Toi Māori Committee committed to the retention and advancement of tā moko. The wealth of moko kauwae witnessed on marae in Taranaki today is evidence of Rangi’s dedicated work along with the moko carried by many toa who undertake brave work around the world.
Through the Master of Māori Visual Arts programme, Rangi moved toward large-scale work. As the 2006 Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Fellow, Rangi produced the autobiographical whare whakairo ‘Radiare’ (2007), which was included in the ‘Star Power’ exhibition at the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art and continues to reside in North America. This shift to large-scale has been further developed through major commissions for Waikato University (2011), Victoria University of Wellington (2012), Auckland Museum and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (2015) and most recently, Te Hono - New Plymouth airport terminal (2019-2020). This beautiful example of integrated design received the Toitanga gold medal at the Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards (2020). Throughout his career, Kipa has forged a practice that investigates how customary Māori language systems, materials and techniques can be re-envisaged in a kōrero between past and present.