Ross Hemera

Ngai Tahu

Artist, Designer and Arts Educator

In recent times Ross creative works have drawn their inspiration from the unique landscape and culture of North Otago and the South Island of New Zealand. In particular, they reference the ancient rock drawings found in limestone caves and outcrops, created by his tipuna, the nomadic Waitaha people. Ross’s work examines the inseparable relationship between the land and culture recalling the words of an old Waitaha saying: in the silence of the rocks the spirit of the old inhabitants is still alive

Ross has built up a practice that honours and reflects the cultural and artistic traditions of his iwi whilst incorporating European forms and materials. For Ross, a good knowledge of the significance and meaning behind the traditional designs he draws from is essential. Although the issues he addresses have broad relevance, his approach is deeply personal. “When I work, the things that are important to me are the things that are important to my family. Often it’s about the land, our relationship as people to the land.”

Recently Ngai Tahu Rungana, have sought Ross’s contribution and leadership regarding the development of Ngai Tahu arts.

Ross is primarily known for his mixed media sculptures. He has undertaken several significant public commissions, including the Whakamarama sculpture at the entrance to the Maori section of the Museum of New Zealand/Te Papa Tongarewa, and his work has been exhibited internationally including in the Maori exhibition at the British Museum in London in 1998.

In 2004 Ross was granted honorary user status of Creative New Zealand Toi Iho Maori Made mark and he is Associate Professor in the School of Visual and Material Culture in the College of Creative Arts at Massey University in Wellington.