Ngai Taharora, Te Whanau a Iritekura, Te Whanau a Rakiroa o Ngati Porou
Robert Jahnke is an artist whose practice has straddled design, illustration, animation and sculpture. His work possesses a creative vitality, often with a political edge. Jahnke’s work champions modern Māori art and uses it to highlight important cultural issues. His works focus on people’s differing perceptions of reality according to historical facts and circumstance. Drawing inspiration from his current social environment, the influence of his studies at the California Institute of Art continues to inform his practice. Jahnke’s works are defined through their questioning and challenging of the established Eurocentric narration of New Zealand’s history; he promotes and champions the Māori experience within his considered contemporary metaphor.
Major public works include window and door designs for the Museum of New Zealand/Te Papa Tongarewa, wall reliefs for the High Court Building and Bowen House in Wellington, and the sculpture installation at the Sky Casino entrance in Auckland.
Robert Jahnke is a leading Māori academic and a pioneer in contemporary Māori art. He is the former Head of the School of Maori Art, Knowledge and Education at Massey University in Palmerston North. He is currently the Professor of Maori Visual Arts for the Toioho ki Apiti Maori Visual Arts programme. He is responsible for setting up the first Maori Visual Arts degree in a university: the Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts in 1995, the Postgraduate Diploma of Maori Visual Arts and the Master of Maori Visual Arts in 1999. Jahnke contributes to Maori Development through his teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate level, his research into traditional Maori carving and his academic writing straddling art education, contemporary and traditional Maori art, and identity politics.