Crafting Aotearoa: A Cultural History of Making in New Zealand and the Wider Moana Oceania

by Damian Skinner, Karl Chitham and Kolokesa Mahina-Tuai

A major new history of craft that spans three centuries of making and thinking in Aotearoa New Zealand and the wider Moana (Pacific). Paying attention to Pākehā, Māori, and island nations of the wider Moana, and old and new migrant makers and their works, this book is a history of craft understood as an idea that shifts and changes over time. At the heart of this book lie the relationships between Pākehā, Māori and wider Moana artistic practices that, at different times and for different reasons, have been described by the term craft. It tells the previously untold story of craft in Aotearoa New Zealand, so that the connections, as well as the differences and tensions, can be identified and explored. This book proposes a new idea of craft – one that acknowledges Pākehā, Māori and wider Moana histories of making, as well as diverse community perspectives towards objects and their uses and meanings.

Crafting Aotearoa in New Zealand Geographic. “Crafting Aotearoa is ambitious, to say the least. Across 460-plus pages it surveys three centuries of craft in New Zealand and the broader Pacific, examining its role in defining cultural identity, and the tensions and transformations that occur as it engages with outside knowledge and practices … a delight to dip into. For a significant work, it carries its load lightly”

Crafting Aotearoa in Urbis “ … first and foremost an acknowledgement of history as it should be acknowledged: a kind of retelling that is resolved to start a ‘dynamic conversation’ between Māori, Pākehā and wider Moana Oceania (Pacific) craftspeople and their work … it’s a wellspring of knowledge on what has constituted three centuries of making in New Zealand.”

Crafting Aotearoa in the New Zealand Listener, reviewed by Sally Blundell “Crafting Aotearoa charts it all, providing an important overview of all things cut and carved, stitched and sewn, hammered and hewn to build a uniquely New Zealand story of cultural change.”

Honourable mention in art critic Paul Wood's picks for the best art books of 2019 “An indispensable, encyclopaedic and comprehensive reference to three centuries of craft in New Zealand, Crafting Aotearoa manages the difficult task of marshalling the contentious categories of craft, art, folk art, design and indigenous practices in a way that will surely set the standard for future scholarship … Although there have been sporadic books on craft in Aotearoa before, this is the first of its scope, and for a reference work it is surprisingly readable and not at all bogged down in its scholarship or the ever-volatile politics of craft.”

Crafting Aotearoa on NZ Booklovers website “Crafting Aotearoa is broad in its reach, visually rich and includes a wealth of historical images as well as new photography … The cover begs you to pick the book up, to stroke it, to lift the cover and discover what other treasures lie within … It is clear that everyone involved in the creation of it over the years cares deeply about craft, about inclusion, and about our shared artistic history. A stunning book about the important cultural history of making in Aotearoa and the wider Moana.”

ISBN 978-0-9941362-7-5
Hardback, 496 pages
Publication date: November 2019
Publisher: Te Papa Press

Price: $85


Gallery Members receive a 10% shop discount 

For the most up to date product information, come and see us in the gallery shop,
or contact us on or 817 8087.

Enquire about
this item