Lisa Reihana

Lisa Reihana

Lisa Reihana MNZM (cropped).jpg
Reihana in 2018 after her investiture as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit by the governor-general, Dame Patsy Reddy.
NationalityNew Zealand

Lisa Marie Reihana MNZM (born 1964) is a New Zealand artist of Maori (Ngāpuhi, Ngati Hine, Ngāi Tu) descent who grew up in Blockhouse Bay, Auckland, New Zealand.[1]


Reihana began attending Elam School of Fine Arts at Auckland University in 1983, graduating in 1987 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.[2] In 2014 she graduated with a Masters in Design from Unitec Institute of Technology Department of Design and Contemporary Arts.[3]


In 1991 Reihana was included in Pleasures and Dangers: Artists of the '90s, a publication and documentary of the same name produced by the Moet & Chandon New Zealand Art Foundation showcasing "the work of eight exciting younger artists, most just now making their mark nationally and overseas".[4]

In 2006 Reihana was one of fifteen New Zealand artists, most of Māori and Pacific Island descent, who were invited to take part in the Pasifika Styles exhibition by making site-specific works throughout the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, University of Cambridge that responded to objects in the museum's collection.[5]:438 For her work He Tautoko (2006) Reihana responded to the museum's Oceania collection, making an iwi connection by selecting a Ngāpuhi tekoteko (carved gable figure) to work with.

Using footage of collection items filmed on an earlier visit to the museum, Reihana made a video of 'multi-layered images and animated tukutuku patterns' that she played on a screen mounted behind the teketeko.[6]:51 Next to the cabinet holding the tekoteko three handsets made audio recordings available for visitors to listen to: the tracks included a recording of songs sung by the Manukau Institute of Technology's Māori choir, the sound of carver Lyonel Grant chiselling a pattern similar to that found on the tekoteko, and recordings of voices reading information about the tekoteko's provenance.[6]:51 A pair of 1960s headphones were positioned on the tekoteko's head. Underneath the cabinet holding the tekoteko Reihana placed another work, fluffy fings, as a playful counterpoint, a collection of 'furry and feathery horn works with titles such as thingymybobs and plush tusks.'[6]:53 Reihana wrote of this display 'The colourful nature of this work appeals to adults and children alike. So that parents could spend more time with he tautoko, fluffy fings was placed at a child's eye level.'[6]:53

Art historian Peter Brunt observes of Reihana's work in Pasifika Styles:

Reihana's work exemplifies two preoccupations of contemporary Pacific art. One is the desire to re-examine colonial history, to excavate, remember and re-present countless micro-histories and counter-memories in formally experimental ways. The second is the desire to draw inspiration from the 'life-worlds' of cultural communities in the present.[5]:438

In 2008 Reihana completed a major commission for the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Installed along Te Ara a Hine (one of the two entrances to the marae in the museum) the work, Mai i te aroha, ko te aroha ('From love, comes love'), was made up of seven components, including video, digital photography and textile design.[7] In the same year Reihana was one of three New Zealand artists selected for the Liverpool Biennale.[7]

In 2014 Reihana received an Arts Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.[3] In March 2016 Reihana was named as a nominee in the biennial Walters Prize for her work in Pursuit of Venus [infected][8]

In Pursuit of Venus [infected]

Reihana's major multi-channel video work In Pursuit of Venus [Infected] (2015) went on display at the Auckland Art Gallery in May 2015.[9] Six years in the making, the work is based on a large 19th-century scenic wallpaper, Les Sauvages de la Mer Pacifique, created by French firm Joseph Dufour et Cie which depicts a romanticised view of the landscapes and people of the Pacific.[9] Using the landscape forms of the wallpaper as a backdrop, Reihana added live action scenes recorded in front of green screens, showing interactions between Europeans and Polynesians.[10] Reihana worked with theatre director Rachel House, actors and students from the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts to create this 32-minute film installation.[11] Reihana's script re-examines the first encounters between Polynesians and Europeans with scenes that depict the intricacies of cultural identity and colonisation.[9]

In a review of the work, John Hurell writes:

In this eagerly anticipated, but not hyped up, narrative packed panorama by Lisa Reihana (it is as good as the advance publicity claimed), its loop of thirty-two minutes duration holds its audience enthralled, being the very best kind of spectacle. Not only is this seamlessly blended array of five video projections sensual - with its sweeping landscape, figure groupings, body movement, leafy textures and dramatic music - but it is thoroughly researched, being packed with much detailed historical information.[12]

An earlier version of the work, Pursuit of Venus, was a finalist in the Singapore Art Museum's Signature Art Prize in 2014.[13]

The exhibition was the most-visited solo exhibition by a New Zealand artist at the Auckland Art Gallery since 1997, with 49,000 visitors.[14]

A version of the work will be shown at the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam in 2016.[15] The work will also be shown at the National Gallery of Victoria from June to September 2016.[16]

Venice Biennale 2017

In October 2015 it was announced that Reihana will represent New Zealand at the 2017 Venice Biennale.[17] Reihana will show an updated version of In Pursuit of Venus [Infected] and a new suite of photographic works.[17]


Banner for In Pursuit of Venus [infected] in Burnie, Tasmania in March 2019
  • 2019-2020 In Pursuit of Venus Kumu, Tallinn, Estonia[18]
  • 2019 in Pursuit of Venus [infected] de Young Museum, San Francisco, California, USA
  • 2019 in Pursuit of Venus [infected] Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
  • 2019 in Pursuit of Venus [infected] APPM Services Building, Burnie, Australia
  • 2015 in Pursuit of Venus [infected] Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia
  • 2015 in Pursuit of Venus [infected] Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2013 In Pursuit of Venus A-Space Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2012 PELT Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • 2012 Nga Hau e wha Papakura Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2010 Te Po o Matariki Corbans Estate, Bruce Mason Theatre, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2008 Mai i te aroha, ko te aroha Museum of New Zealand Te Papa, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 2007 Native Portraits Museo Laboratoriao Arte Contemporanea, Rome, Italy
  • 2007 Digital Marae Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand[19]
  • 2006 Tamaki of 100 Suitors ‘5-4-3-2-1' Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2006 Some Girls + Colour of Sin Snowhite Gallery, Auckland, New Zealand
  • 2005 New Works Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
  • 2004 2004 the colour of sin Ramp Gallery, Hamilton, New Zealand
  • 2003 Readymade Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia
  • 2003 Digital Marae The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt, New Zealand


Reihana's work is represented in the collections of Auckland Art Gallery,[20] the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa[21] and the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery.[22]

Awards and recognition

In 2015 Reihana was recognised with the Te Tohu Toi Kē award from Creative New Zealand for 'making a positive difference to ngā toi Māori'.[15]

In the 2018 New Year Honours, Reihana was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to art.[23]

Further reading


  1. ^ Reihana, Lisa; White, Anna-Marie. Lisa Reihana: "Ngā Hau e Whā" (2012 ed.). Auckland: Papakura Art Gallery: Auckland Council: Arts and Culture South.
  2. ^ Reihana, Lisa (2009). Digital Marae/Lisa Reihana. New Plymouth: Govett Brewster Art Gallery.
  3. ^ a b "Lisa Reihana". The Arts Foundation. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  4. ^ Clark, Trish; Curnow, Wystan (1991). Pleasures and dangers: Artists of the '90s. Auckland: Moet & Chandon New Zealand Art Foundation and Longman Paul. ISBN 058285976X.
  5. ^ a b Brunt, Peter; Nicholas, Thomas (2013). Art in Oceania : a new history. London: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0500239010.
  6. ^ a b c d Raymond, Rosanna; Salmond, Amiria (2008). Pasifika Styles. Cambridge and Dunedin: University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; Otago University Press. ISBN 0947595155.
  7. ^ a b "Mai i te aroha, ko te aroha". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
  8. ^ "Four artists announced for the Walters Prize 2016". Auckland Art Gallery. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  9. ^ a b c "Lisa Reihana: in Pursuit of Venus [infected]". Auckland Art Gallery. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  10. ^ Gifford, Adam (2 May 2015). "Lisa Reihana: Close encounters of the Pacific kind". NZ Herald. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  11. ^ Gifford, Adam (2 May 2015). "Lisa Reihana: Close encounters of the Pacific kind". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  12. ^ Hurrell, John. "Reihana's Infected Pursuit of Venus". EyeContact. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  13. ^ "2014 Signature Art Prize". Art Asia Pacific. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  14. ^ Ikram, Ali (6 September 2015). "Art matters: Venus dazzles but light needs to shine on Secret Power". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 6 September 2015.
  15. ^ a b "Honouring contributions to Māori arts with 2015 Te Waka Toi Awards". Creative New Zealand. 28 November 2015. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Lisa Reihana: In pursuit of Venus". NGV Australia. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  17. ^ a b "2017 Venice Biennale: New Zealand's artist and curator announced". Creative New Zealand. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  18. ^ "The Conqueror's Eye: Lisa Reihana's In Pursuit of Venus — Kumu Art Museum". kumu.ekm.ee. Retrieved 10 November 2019.
  19. ^ "Digital Marae". Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  20. ^ "Lisa Reihana". Auckland Art Gallery. Retrieved 2 May 2015.
  21. ^ "Search results". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
  22. ^ "Recent Acquisitions". Govett-Brewster Art Gallery. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
  23. ^ "New Year honours list 2018". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 30 December 2017. Retrieved 4 January 2018.

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