Darcy John Nicholas

Te Āti Awa, Ngāi Te Rangi, Taranaki, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Ranginui

1945 -

Darcy Nicholas was born in Waitara, Taranaki, and was educated at Huirangi Primary School and Waitara High School. Nicholas trained in the New Zealand Police Force and in 1973 spent some months in Australia where he was very influenced by the painting of Australian artist Russell Drysdale. From 1973-1981 Nicholas painted full-time. In 1981 he was appointed Director of the Wellington Arts Centre and coordinated a pilot programme for unemployed artists. In 1984 he was awarded a Fullbright Cultural Award to study infrastructures of contemporary Native American and contemporary African-American art in the United States. He travelled to France, Britain, India, Singapore and Australia to observe arts programmes. In 1986 Nicholas was appointed Director of the Central Regional Arts Council and three years later took up an appointment as Assistant General Manager (Western Division) with the Iwi Transition Agency. Nicholas was invited to Zimbabwe to be one of the international jurists selecting Zimbabwe Heritage in 1987, 1988 and 1989. In 1992 Nicholas went back to painting and sculpting full-time, and in 1993 accepted a position with the Porirua City Council as Director of Cultural Services for Porirua City. Currently he is working as Group Manager of Cultural Development for Porirua City. Nicholas is a trustee of the International Festival in Wellington. He is chairperson of Ati Awa FM Radio station and is a member of the Taranaki Whanui Runanga for Wellington. Nicholas is a trustee for the Contemporary Artists’ Māori Trust. Nicholas has exhibited his paintings at many exhibitions in New Zealand and has also exhibited in London, Hawaii, Paris, Zimbabwe, the United States, and Germany. He won the Wanganui Art Award for Māori Painter of the Year.

Biographical sources

  • Phone conversation and correspondence with Nicholas, 21 June 1998.
  • Fax from Nicholas, 23 June 1998.


  • "Contemporary Māori Art." AGMANZ Journal 16.1 (1985): 6-8.
  • This essay on Māori art is written in the form of an interview with Rautama whom Nicholas describes as his ‘Taiaha, that timeless element, that parallel spirit that all Māori people have in the world of today.’ The interview focuses on the Māori response to land, the imposition of European values, new developments in Māori art, and ways of maintaining the integrity and separateness of Māori art from mainstream Western art.
  • Foreword. Seven Māori Artists. Interviews by Darcy Nicholas and Keri Kaa. Wellington, N.Z.: V. R. Ward, Govt. Printer, 1986. n.pag.
  • Nicholas writes of the role of artists in society and states that Seven Māori Artists is a platform on which Māori people and other races can keep in touch with Māori through the medium of art. He used Māori protocol as the basic structure of the book and maintains that the finished result ‘is in essence a marae, where the reader may sit down and meet the artists.’
  • "Darcy Nicholas: Te Atiawa, Ngaiterangi, Taranaki, Ngāti Ruanui." Seven Māori Artists. Interviews by Darcy Nicholas and Keri Kaa. Wellington, N.Z.: V. R. Ward, Govt. Printer, 1986. 30-33.
  • Nicholas discusses his childhood and early influences on the development of his art work, and writes of issues impacting on contemporary Māori art.
  • "Te Māori - the canoe returns." Listener 16 Aug. 1986: 75-76. (113.2426)
  • Nicholas reflects on the impact of Te Māori in the international arena. He discusses the nature of Māori art, issues facing contemporary Māori artists and the possibility of interrelationship between Māori and Pakeha artists. He argues against storing Te Māori taonga within ‘the cold grey walls of museums’ and opts instead to return them to their own iwi ‘to be touched, to be warmed, to be laughed with and to be cried over.’
  • Seven Māori Artists. Interviews by Darcy Nicholas and Keri Kaa. Wellington, N.Z.: V. R. Ward, Govt. Printer, 1986.
  • In this book of interviews with Māori artists by Keri Kaa and Nicholas, Nicholas interviews Cliff Whiting, Sandy Adsett, Fred Graham, Rangi Hetet, and Erenora Puketapu-Hetet. He includes a chapter on his own art work and Keri Kaa interviews Robyn Kahukiwa. The book concludes with a collection of colour reproductions of the artists’ work and a glossary.
  • "John Bevan Ford: Weaver of Lines, History and Genealogy." Art New Zealand 49 (Summer 1988/89): 51-53.
  • Nicholas provides an overview of contemporary Māori artists and their influences, and notes the contribution of Gordon Tovey to a group of young Māori artists in the late 1950s and 1960s. He gives a brief biography of John Bevan Ford and discusses three pen and ink works by Ford, entitled Te Hono Ki Ranana 1 (1987), Te Hono IIIXI (1987) and Te Hono Ki Ranana.
  • "Zimbabwe Heritage...: The Magic of Contemporary African Art." Arts Times 17 (Summer 1989): 12-13.
  • Nicholas gives a detailed account of the stone sculpture and other contemporary arts of Zimbabwe and writes about the exhibition of Contemporary African art shown in Auckland, N.Z. during the 1990 Commonwealth Games.


  • Dawn Ireland. "Farewells" Arts Times 17 (Summer 1989): 9.
  • Reviews

    Seven Māori Artists
  • Pohatu, Godfrey. Te Karanga: Canterbury Māori Studies Association 2.1 (May 1986): 38-39.