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Toi Tu Toi Ora by Nigel Borell is the story of contemporary Māori art from the 1950s to the present day. With more than 200 artworks by 110 Māori artists, this is a powerful, dynamic new book.

Māori art is unique among all art movements, and to Aotearoa New Zealand. Drawing on centuries of indigenous knowledge and skill, it reflects a Māori world view, life in this land and the debates that continue to shape it.

Based on the ground-breaking 2020-21 exhibition staged by Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, and edited by the show’s curator Nigel Borell, Toi Tu Toi Ora features more than 200 works by 110 Māori artists. From carving to painting, video art to jewellery, body adornment to weaving, this is a powerful expression of the vast creativity and diversity within Māori art, linked across time and place through the Māori creation story and revealing profound connections to whakapapa, to whenua and to the spiritual world.

Every work is illustrated in full colour and described in illuminating captions that are bilingual in English and te reo Māori. A beautiful foreword by Moana Jackson and the author’s informative introduction share the history of contemporary Māori art within a kaupapa Māori worldview. These are supplemented by a comprehensive chronology of contemporary Māori art by the exhibition’s assistant curator Taarati Taiaroa, and detailed biographies for every artist, written by expert curators and art historians.

This is a major resource on toi Māori for anyone interested in the culture or history of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Kia maia! This is the art book Aotearoa has been waiting for! It resets the potential of all our dreams and creates a powerful poutama to the future. – Witi Ihimaera 

  • Written by Nigel Borrell
  • Hardback book
  • 392 pages
  • Published: 16 March 2022
  • ISBN: 9780143776734


Nigel Borell (Pirirakau, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Te Whakatohea) is an artist, curator and writer. As Curator, Māori Art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Nigel curated the ground-breaking 2020-21 exhibition Toi Tu Toi Ora. Prior to that he was Associate Curator Māori at Auckland War Memorial Museum and Kaiwhakahaere Toi o Manukau; Māori Arts Manager, Auckland Council-South. Borell lectures in the University of Auckland Art History Department on Māori art history. He holds a Master of Fine Arts (Hons) from Elam School of Fine Arts in 2002 and is himself a practicing artist.