Artist Profile: Stevei Houkamau



Ngati Porou, Rangitane, Scottish, English

Stevei’s first experience with Uku started with a small pinch pot in 2011 at a Wananga with guest tutors Wi Taepa, Manos Nathan and Baye Riddle. From that moment on her fascination, commitment and love of Uku has continued to grow. For Stevei, being able to create Taonga from Uku is a privilege. Uku continues to enrich Stevei’s life as a Maori Uku artist as well as the artists of Nga Kaihanga Uku who have guided and nurtured me up to this point.

Stevei was born and raised in Porirua with a strong connection to her whakapapa has influenced both her life and art work. She tries to reflect these influences in her work by mixing Maori and other Pacific Island patterns which you would most commonly see in Ta Moko and Tatau. Stevei has always had a fascination with Ta Moko and Tatau, how it is used to accentuate and frame the body and how it is used to tell the stories of a people. Stevei applies these same principles to her Uku. Although her shapes are typically simple in design, she uses the carvings to accentuate the curves and to suggest lines and contours that may not be so obvious. She also uses the patterns to tell her story and the story of her Tipuna.

Stevei has exhibited in many group xhibition throughout New Zealand, Aotearoa, and her work in held in many national and international collections.Stevei has also been selected as a participating artist at Kokiri Putahi the 7th International Indigenous Artists Gathering as well as the Ngapuhi Festival to be held in 2014.

I hope that when you look at my work you will appreciate the simplicity of the shapes and explore the intricacies of the patterns. I want to provoke an emotion in each person, I want them to want to touch and explore every groove and cut of the Uku, to feel that connection with the Uku and the connection that Uku has to Papatuanuku.