Cliff Whiting

b. 1936d. 2017

Also known as:

  • Clifford Whiting

Cliff Whiting was born in Te Kaha, of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui decent. His studies, at Wellington Teachers' College in the mid-1950's, coincided with the Department of Education's promotion of Māori Arts and Crafts eduction in schools under Gordon Tovey. Along with John Bevan Ford, Sandy Adsett, Cath Brown, Ralph Hotere, Paratene Matchitt, Muru Walters and Marilyn Webb, Whiting is part of the 'Tovey generation' : artists who works as Māori Arts and Crafts Advisors in schools across Aotearoa.

From 1972 to 1981 Whiting lectured at the Palmerston North College of Education, introducing the practice of student marae visits. He was central to the planning and building of the college marae, Te Kupenga o Te Mātauranga, the first marae built for a tertiary institution.

From 1993 Whiting was Director Bicultural Relations for the Museum of New Zealand and had a formative role shaping the new museum building, Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand (Wellington). He went on to serve as Te Papa’s first Kaihautū (Māori co-leader) and oversaw the creation of his most widely recognised contribution to the museum: Te Hono ki Hawaiki, a magnificent wharenui, or meeting house.

He received many prestigious awards including an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Massey University (1996), the Order of New Zealand for services to the arts (1998), Te Tohu Tiketike a Te Waka Toi (2003), and Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award (2013).

His large scale public artworks are located in many significant sites including: the National Library, the Christchurch High Court, Parliament, Otago Museum, Archives New Zealand, Television New Zealand and the visitors centre of Aoraki Mt Cook. He also has work in the Musee de Dahlem, Berlin, Germany.

See also:

Cliff Whiting (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui), ‘Te Wehinga o Rangi rāua ko Papa’ (1974), Te Ahumairangi, National Library of New Zealand, Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington

Images: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2022