Tiki Taane Portraits

Watch this video of musician Tiki Taane responding to Minson's two paintings of him with full-face Moko


"Tiki Taane" 850mm high x 1800mm wide, oil on canvas


In 2011 Minson created two, two-metre-wide oil portraits of New Zealand musician Tiki Taane, with painted face moko. They are powerful close-up images, which bring clearly to view the connection he forges between himself and his whakapapa. The works took 12 monthsto paint from the time Minson photographed Taane in her Auckland art studio, marking the beginning of her painting process.

Minson's artwork first caught the eye of the chart-topping musician in 2007 when they were featured in the same Magazine. Taane contacted the painter with an idea to collaborate through album artwork or merchandise for his music. Minson says she thinks of this portrait as a collaboration of sorts because "the paintings are so full of Tiki's story and his presence, which comes through his Ta Moko and the intensity of his eyes."

Minson's mixed Maori (Ngati Porou), Swedish, English and Irish ancestry has sparked her interest in how we relate to the culture of our ancestors in a contemporary world.

Taane has worn his moko previously as artwork: inspired by C.F. Goldie portraits, he presents himself with full facial moko on the cover of his Past, Present, Future album.

Regarding his arrested in April 2011 for singing "f*** the police" at a Tauranga nightclub, Minson says "Tiki must have found the media and legal spotlight challenging. As a fellow artist I admire his strength coming out with a new song "Freedom To Sing" and a new album "In the World of Light" as he has proven his creativity and inspiration is more powerful than ever."

"In these paintings Tiki proudly wears his moko, an outward sign of his inner growth and resilience."




Interview with Tiki Taane on Ta Moko

1. How was the decision made to have you wearing Ta Moko for your album Past, Present, Future?

Seeing as the album was delving into my story of understanding my whakapapa, I wanted the artwork & especially the cover to be similar to a Goldie portrait. 

2. Who designed your moko?

Inia Taylor from Mokoink, who has tattooed a lot of me & also my mum, drew the moko based upon my whakapapa, new & old. We made the prosthetic moko for the video Tangaroa in which I play the roll of my Tipuna.. 

3. Would you ever get a permanent full-face moko?

Yes, the moko that we designed will be the one I will eventually wear, but that will be in many years. Like DNA, it is mine & mine only. My son & his sons will be the only people who could wear that moko. 

4. What does moko mean to you?

One of the biggest reminders for me to keep on pushing, are my Moko & Tattoos. Everyday I have to carry these signs with pride, through the judgement, to never forget who I am & where I have come from, for that sets the foundation of where I am heading.


Contemporary Maori Oil Portrait Series

"I'm interested in painting creative and inspiring Maori
people who are helping to evolve today's culture through
their own art forms or roles in society."
- Sofia Minson

"Turumakina" 1400mm high x 2100mm wide, oil on canvas

"The Other Sister" 850mm high x 1800mm wide, oil on canvas

"Dame Joan Metge" 850mm high x 1800mm wide, oil on canvas
Commissioned by the New Zealand Portrait Gallery for the Makers of Modern New Zealand 1930-1990 Exhibition


About Minson's Maori Oil Portraits

Sofia Minson's contemporary Maori oil portraits are an ongoing series of works that explore the modern meaning of heritage for an indigenous culture living in a post-colonial society.

The artist, of Ngati Porou Maori, Swedish, English and Irish decent, uses the traditional Western medium of oil on canvas favoured by Gottfried Lindauer and C.F. Goldie – 19th and early 20th century Western colonial artists who Minson says "took it upon themselves to record in precise detail, the 'vanishing race' of Maori. This was a belief commonly held at the turn of the century. I intend to use their medium to show Maori as being a very much living, evolving and creative people, inhabiting real and current time and space."

If you get a chance to stand in front of one of these large-scale, close-up oil works you will feel their powerful impact. The faces tower over you in size, grab your attention with their highly realistic eyes and at the same time soothe you with their smokey grey blended brushwork.

Minson: "Many of the works are painted with a stark grey palette, which givesa contemporary aesthetic, as well as alludes to old black and white photographs of Maori who were posed and adorned with status-defining feather cloaks, huia feathers, Ta Moko, pounamu and other taonga.

I aim to redirect the ‘gaze’ of indigenous portraiture in two ways:

  1. Rather than European colonial painters gazing upon Maori subjects, I, as a Ngati Porou artist, am depicting fellow contemporary Maori people. The gaze is now between Maori.

  2. Goldie and Lindauer did a great service to the world by recording our tupuna in such beautiful and loving detail. However Goldie's subjects in particular, were embued with a sense of melancholy mainly looking downward, as if contemplating their disappearing culture and people. Instead, the subjects of my portraits look out of the canvas directly at the viewer with intense eyes full of presence and mana. Maori now have their power back and gaze outward at the world."