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Best of New Zealand
Culture l Farming Life l Maori Culture



The crux of dance in New Zealand is still ballet and thousands of girls and boys do their pirouettes while dreaming of a place at the New Zealand School of Dance or Royal New Zealand Ballet in Wellington. The latter faces the dilemma of maintaining a balance between commercial survival and artistic relevance.

The endurance of contemporary dance is uncertain too. For years, Mary-Jane O' Reilly's Limbs dance company showed New Zealanders a new different way of dance. Limbs has been succeeded by Douglas Wright and Michael Parminter, two local contemporary dancers and choreographers.


A developing art form in New Zealand is pottery, which first flourished after World War II. Immigrant potters took advantage of the region's rich clays and areas like Nelson and the Coromandel Peninsula were isolated enough to suit the alternative lifestyle that pottery offered.

Barry Brickell in Coromandel, Harry and May Davis of Crewenna and the Lairds of Waimea Potteries (both in Nelson) are trainers of many contemporary potters. An icon among young Maori potters is Helen Mason who lives on the east coast. Len Castle of Auckland, with his emphasis on simple forms, was one of the first full-time potters.

Weaving and Carving

Spinning, weaving, and carving are dominant parts of New Zealand's craft profile. Many weavers are moving into spectacular 'art' tapestries, some of them multidimensional. Professionals such as Rangimarie Hetet and Emily Schuster lead the revival of the Maori art of flax weaving. Others have created Maori-inspired works that are highly contemporary.

Different options for material are now being manipulated. Numerous Maori and Pakeha craftspeople now carve bone, wood, and the traditional greenstone (pounamu) to create their own designs or imitate traditional Maori ones. Auckland's Te Taumata Gallery and Fingers jewelry display examples of this form of art.


New Zealand poses as a museum full of various architectural archives from Renaissance, Gothic, Victorian, and Bauhaus to contemporary structures. Auckland city is filled with modern works of late 20th Century architects, but the best example of contemporary work can be seen in Wellington's cityscape. Architect Ian Athfield, whose style amounts to a one-man revolution, has been instrumental in erecting or rebuilding some of the capital's more spectacular buildings. His new public library, adjacent to the Michael Fowler Center (designed by Miles Warren) and the new Wellington City Art Gallery, provides a unified and flowing cultural 'heart' to the city. The Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa - reflects the influence of design, which has its roots in Pacific culture.

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