“My tribe is Ngati Hine.
My Mountain is Motatau
My river is Waiomio
My tribal gathering place is Miria
The house of my ancestors is Te Rapunga
My Chief and ancestor is Kawiti.
My home is inside the boundaries of Ngati Kahu in the Far North.
My name is Theresa Reihana.”

“I have been painting with enthusiasm for five years. My appreciation of my culture, my whanau and my surroundings are the inspiration for my art. I don’t ever lack for inspiration; it’s finding enough time to paint. I draw my strength from my taha mäori and as I learn more about where I come from and my Tupuna ancestors I feel more compelled to live my life as they would have me. I also have Danish, English and Scottish heritage. My belief is that upon this earth we are all one. We should protect, feed and nurture the land for only the land will feed our grandchildren.  I also believe that my skill as an artist is a gift, and as such my choices are important as to the path I take in life and the content of my work. Kia ora mai. Theresa”


In 1999 illness led Theresa Reihana to the decision to leave her job as a labourer driver on Manukau City Council and return home to the whanau papakainga in the Far North. She credits this as being one of the hardest but best decisions she has ever made. Learning of her culture, her whakapapa links and her history created the inspiration that has her now being one of the most important emerging contemporary Maori artists of the North. She has exhibited nationally and internationally.

•    2001   Italy, Florence
•    2002   Italy, Florence, Rome, Bologna
•    2003   Melbourne, Koori Heritage trust
•    2005   National,Touring exhibition from Te Papa
•    2007   Netherlands, Hilton, Rotterdam

Her work is diverse. From portraiture to abstract, often symbolic, but always incorporating her trademark vibrancy of color. Her subject many times is motherhood and children which reflects what she knows best as a mother of six.

Theresa often teachers at community workshops and Schools

In much of her work she explores the world around us and examines our role as kaitiaki or guardians. She has touched on what is always around us but of which we rarely pay a second glance, drawing us into a contradiction that everything is endless, when that endlessness is actually dependent on our roles and responsibilities towards its conservation.

Theresa credits her talent to her ancestors and places their values at the forefront of her life, both personal and artistically. She finds that finding the balance between values of the past and those of the future is her greatest challenge but a challenge of which is impossible to walk away from.