2 Oct 2012

Carving history underpins doctoral thesis

8:45 pm on 2 October 2012

Auckland University indigenous art history lecturer Ngarino Ellis has become only the second Maori woman in the university's history to be awarded a doctorate in art history.

More than 2900 Auckland University graduates were honoured on Tuesday at four ceremonies held in the Aotea Centre's ASB theatre, including 136 doctoral graduates.

Among them was Dr Ellis, of Ngapuhi and Ngati Porou descent, who spent 15 years studying the whakapapa of traditional Maori carving on the East Coast between 1830 and 1930.

The thesis researched six well known carvers and 26 other lesser known ones from the former Iwirakau Carving School near East Cape, to track changes in the style of Maori art.

Dr Ellis says she had little written information available to research, which meant tracking down carvings on the East Coast and another 200 in about 20 museums all over the world.

She says a variety of circumstances, including having children and a lack of written material to call on, meant the thesis took 15 years to complete.