Brett Graham

b. 1967

Brett Graham was born in Auckland and is of Ngāti Koroki Kahukura and Tainui decent. Graham’s father, sculptor Fred, and contemporaries such as Selwyn Muru, Paratene Matchitt and Ralph Hotere were early influences on his artistic development.

Graham graduated from the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland with a Bachelors degree in 1988. Subsequently he completed a Master of Fine Arts at the University of Hawai'i. His Doctor of Fine Arts, Kāinga tahi, kāinga rua : ka mate kāinga tahi, ka ora kāinga rua, was conferred by the University of Auckland in 2003.

Graham creates large scale artworks and installations exploring Māori and other indigenous peoples’ histories, politics and philosophies, and issues relating to the cultural inequities of past and present.

He has been a full-time practicing artist since 2005, exhibiting twice at the Sydney Biennale (2006 and 2010) and at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007). Public commissions include: 'Kahukura' at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre, New Caledonia; 'Kaiwhakatere' in the Parliamentary Precinct, Wellington; 'Kowhatu Karohirohi' for Victoria University, Wellington; 'Escape' at North Shore Court House, Auckland; 'Manu Tawhiowhio' at AUT, Auckland.

Living and working in Waiuku, on the southern shore of Manukau Harbour, Graham has been a constant traveller undertaking residences through Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa (the Pacific), North America and Europe.

He is widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s most accomplished contemporary artists, and was made an Arts Laureate by the Arts Foundation in 2021.

See also:

Brett Graham, ‘Te Matariki’ (1994), Te Piringa Faculty of Law, University of Waikato, Kirikiriroa Hamilton

Image: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021