Cliff Hamilton Whiting

Te Whānau a Apanui

1936 -



Cliff Whiting was born in Te Kaha and was educated at Te Kaha Native School and Te Kaha District High School. From 1955-57 he attended Wellington Teachers’ College. In his third year he trained as an arts and crafts specialist for the Department of Education at Dunedin Teachers’ College. Whiting worked as an art specialist in Nelson, became District Adviser for the Wanganui Education Board, and was appointed as Arts and Crafts Education Lecturer at Palmerston North Teachers’ College. He practiced as an artist in the Bay of Islands and was Māori Buildings Adviser to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Whiting was appointed as a member of the Māori and South Pacific Arts Council (MASPAC) and became Chair of MASPAC when it changed to Te Waka Toi. He was Deputy Chair of the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council. When the Arts Council restructured and became Toi Aotearoa (Creative New Zealand), Whiting spent one year as a Councillor for Toi Aotearoa. He was appointed as Māori Art and History Director at Te Papa Musuem of New Zealand and is currently Kaihautu of Te Papa. Whiting has made a significant contribution to contemporary Māori art as a painter, carver and designer and in his work as coordinator of marae art projects. In 1966 he was made an Honorary Doctor of Literature by Massey University and in 1986 was awarded the Alan Highet Award for "mid-career artists with ability and clear potential". In 1999 he was appointed to the Order of New Zealand. While Whiting does not consider writing to be his primary focus, he has been involved with writing about aspects of traditional Māori art and contemporary Māori art.

Biographical sources

  • Correspondence from Whiting on 17 Nov. 2004.
  • Phone conversation with Whiting on 21 July 1998.
  • "Alan Highet Award." New Zealand Crafts: Craft Council Magazine 18 (1986): 31.

    Non-fiction

  • Tukutuku and Kowhaiwhai: The Arts of the Māori Instructional Booklet. Prepared by Mihiata Retimana, Cliff Whiting and Clive Arlidge. Wellington, N.Z.: Art and Craft Branch, Dept. of Education, 1967.
  • A teachers’ guide to tukutuku and kowhaiwhai with instructions on the techniques, materials and designs used for constructing tukutuku panels and kowhaiwhai paintings in the classroom.
  • McLaughlin, Anne. "Cliff Whiting: Art Is Part And Parcel Of His Life-Style." Te Māori 6.6 (Oct. 1974): 25.
  • Carving. Booklet prepared by Para Matchitt, Muru Walters, and Clifford Whiting. Wellington, N.Z.: Art and Craft Branch, Dept. of Education, 1978.
  • The authors write that ‘[t]his booklet is designed to assist teachers to meet the needs of their pupils in Māori carving, and it shows something of the progressive stages through which children naturally develop their interests and skills.’ The authors give clear guidelines through the use of photographs and text on the tools and materials suitable for children to use when carving. They discuss the importance of the sketch design, and outline the development from low relief to deep relief in carving. They conclude by showing the range of motifs in Māori carving, and give instruction on tool care.
  • "Cliff Whiting: Whanau Apanui." Interview by Darcy Nicholas. Seven Māori Artists. Interviews by Darcy Nicholas and Keri Kaa. Wellington, N.Z.: V. R. Ward, Govt. Printer, 1986. 8-15.
  • Whiting describes his childhood, his introduction to art, and the significance of Gordon Tovey in impacting a generation of young Māori art advisers. Whiting speaks of his early marae projects and particularly the Whangaparaoa Marae project near Cape Runaway.
  • "Alan Highet Award." New Zealand Crafts: Craft Council Magazine 18 (Spring 1986): 31.
  • "Hinaki (Eel catching pot) Made by Cliff Whiting in the Early 1970s." Mau Mahara: Our Stories in Craft. Based on the exhibition selected by Justine Olsen, John Parker, and Cliff Whiting from a concept devised and developed by Jim and Mary Barr. Organised by the Crafts Council of New Zealand. Official New Zealand 1990 Project. Auckland, N.Z.: Random Century, 1990. 32-33.
  • Whiting discusses issues underlying the relationship between Māori and the environment.
  • Mau Mahara: Our Stories in Craft. Based on the exhibition selected by Justine Olsen, John Parker, and Cliff Whiting from a concept devised and developed by Jim and Mary Barr. Organized by the Crafts Council of New Zealand. Official New Zealand 1990 Project. Auckland, N.Z.: Random Century, 1990.
  • A publication celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Crafts Council of New Zealand with photographs and descriptive texts of various items exhibited in the bicultural exhibition of New Zealand craft, Mau Mahara: Our Stories in Craft.
  • "The Artist-Educator: Tribute to Dr Beeby." The Arts Advocate 2 (Sept. 1992): 4.
  • Writing from the perspective of being a Māori arts specialist in the late 1950s, Whiting provides one of three tributes to Dr Beeby at his 90th birthday celebration.
  • "Reflections For A New Era." Arts Advocate 5 (Sept. 1993): 6-8.
  • A two-part article in which Jenny Pattrick, as Arts Council Chair, and Cliff Whiting, as Te Waka Toi Chair, comment on changes to arts funding in New Zealand. Whiting discusses with Gilbert Haisman the impact of Te Waka Toi being under the umbrella of the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council.
  • Durie, Mason and Taiarahia Black "Citation for the Conferment of the Degree of Doctor of Literature (Honoris Causa), Massey University, May 1996: Clifford Hamilton Whiting." He Pukenga Kōrero: A Journal of Māori Studies 2.1 (Koanga [Spring] 1996): 8-11.
  • Mataora: The Living Face: Contemporary Māori Art. General ed. Sandy Adsett and Cliff Whiting. Ed. Witi Ihimaera. Wellington, N.Z.: David Bateman; Te Waka Toi/Creative New Zealand, 1997.
  • This substantial publication on contemporary Māori art is divided into sections entitled: Wero; Karanga; Whaikōrero; Mataora; He Tirohanga Hou; He Tirohanga Ki Muri;Te Whenua; Te Reo; Te Ahua Whenua; Te Rito o Te Harakeke; Ta Te Tiriti o Waitangi; He Whakaaro; Poroporoaki and Waiata. It concludes with artists’ biographies, a glossary and an index. Extensive photographs of the art work are interspersed with written texts by Robert Jahnke and Witi Ihimaera.