Sandy Adsett was born in Wairoa and educated at Raupunga Native School and Te Aute Māori Boys College. He attended Ardmore Training College and in his third year went to Dunedin Training College for the art specialist training. He worked as an art specialist for the Hawkes Bay Education Board for one year and then moved to the Gisborne Education District where he was an Arts Adviser up to 1992. In 1993 he became Principal Tutor at the Tairawhiti Polytechnic Art Department in Gisborne, where he worked with the Diploma in Visual Arts Māori programme—Toihoukura. Adsett moved to Hastings where he set up a new school of contemporary Māori arts called Toimairangi which has courses up to a Bachelor of Arts level with Te Wananga o Aotearoa/University of New Zealand. He is a member of Te Atinga/ Contemporary Māori Arts Committee of Toi Māori Aotearoa and is on Te Waka Toi Board of Creative New Zealand. Adsett is a leading figure in contemporary Māori art and has exhibited in major exhibitions throughout New Zealand and in Australia, Europe, United States, and Africa. He has been active in marae decoration and restoration, and designed the paintings, carving and tukutuku at Te Huki Meeting house at Raupunga in 1982, coordinated art work in other meeting houses in the region, and worked on the dining room at Hukarere School. Adsett won the Montana Art Award, and in 2005 was made a Member of The New Zealand Order of Merit for services to art. In 2006 he graduated with a Master of Māori Visual Arts (1st Class Hons) from Massey University and in 2014 received an honorary doctorate from Massey University. In 2014 he was awarded Te Waka Toi Awards Supreme Award - Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu in recognition of exemplary contribution to the development of ngā toi Māori. In the 2018 Te Waka Toi Awards Adsett received the Te Tohu o Te Papa Tongarewa Rongomaraeroa Award which recognised his artistic excellence and outstanding contibution to Māori arts. In 2020 he was a recipient of the Arts Foundation Whakamana Hirangi Icon Award.
- Phone conversation and correspondence with Sandy Adsett, 17 June 1998 and 3 May
- Correspondence from Colleen Lenihan, Information and Resource Officer at Toi Māori, 23 June 1998.
Māori, 23 June 1998.
- Mataora: The Living Face. General Editors: Sandy Adsett and
Cliff Whiting. Ed. Witi Ihimaera. Wellington, N.Z.: David Bateman/Te Waka Toi/Creative New
Zealand, 1997. 163.
- “Te Kawiti, Carved In The Period 1700-1800: Wairoa Library And Museum.” 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. Auckland, N.Z.: Random Century, 1990. 28-29.
- Adsett provides a brief history of the Tekoteko Te Kawiti which formerly stood
at the entrance of Te Poho O Te Kawiti and is now housed in the Wairoa Museum.
- “Kete Made by Newa Smith.” 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. Auckland, N.Z.: Random Century, 1990. 62.
- Adsett writes a short background to a kete made by Newa Smith.
- "Kōwhaiwhai arts." Tauranga, N.Z.: Education Advisory Service, Art & Design, c1992.
- Co-authors Chris Graham and Rob McGregor.
- 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, glossary and index.
Extensive photographs of the art work are interspersed by texts by Robert Jahnke and Witi
- "A voice from the pae." Te Tini a Pītau : Ngataiharuru Taepa : 12 years of kōwhaiwhai : 14 June - 6 September 2015. Porirua City, N.Z.: Pataka Art + Museum, 2015.
- “Sandy Adsett: Ngāti Kahungunu.” Interview by Darcy Nicholas. Seven Māori Artists. Interviews by Darcy Nicholas and Keri Kaa.
Wellington, N.Z.: V. R. Ward, Government Printer, 1986. 16-19.
- In this interview Adsett describes his introduction to art at Te Aute College,
and his experiences as a teacher. He speaks of his interest in kowhaiwhai designs and
discusses issues of Māori art and identity.
- Mack, James C. Landfall 194 New Series 5.2 (Nov. 1997):
- “Whaikōrero: Welcome of the Elders.” Sandy Adsett, Cliff Whiting, Timoti
Karetu, Derek Lardelli.” 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. 10-15.
- A welcome to all who read Mataora and a recounting of the
story of Mataora receiving the moko and bringing the art of the Moko to the world of the
- Kohia ko taikaka anake : artists construct new directions : New Zealand's largest exhibition of contemporary Maori art : National Art Gallery, December 1 1990-March 17 1991 : a Nga Puna Waihanga, Te Waka Toi, National Art Gallery exhibition. Wellington, N.Z.: Museum of New Zealand, c1993.
- Curators, Paratene Matchitt, Sandy Adsett and Tim Walker.
- “The Art Of The People.” Robyn McLean. The Dominion Post
17 Dec. 2004. B9.