Artist seeks men and women with facial Moko for new portrait series – Sofia Minson in Nati Link magazine article

Possibly the most visually striking way to express your connection to your heritage is through facial tattoo – moko kauae and moko kanohi. I’m interested in finding out why Maori are embracing this ancient tradition in our contemporary world and documenting the diverse faces and stories of our people through a new series of portrait paintings…

Click on image to read article in the April issue of Nati Link Magazine, which invites people to participate in my new series of portrait paintings.Nati-Maori-Artist-seeks-men-and-women-with-facial-Moko-for-new-portrait-series-Nati-Link-Article-April-2014-Sofia-Minson-New-Zealand-Artwork

Magazine: Nati Link
Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou – Connecting Our Iwi
April 2014  |  Issue 05
Main Article: Ko Waiapu Te Awa – Restoring the Waiapu River

“Ko Waiapu Te Awa”, Sofia Minson, oil on canvas, 2006. Sofia is an artist of Ngati Porou descent, and is profiled on page 24 of this issue.

Page 24 – 25
“Nati Artist seeks men and women with facial Moko for new portrait series”

Sofia Minson is the artist behind this month’s cover image, “Ko Waiapu Te Awa”, a creative representation of our sacred river.  Sofia is of Ngati Porou descent through her tipuna May Hermanson (grandmother) and great-grandmother Matire Te Horowai from Waipiro Bay. Sofia is developing a new series of artworks and needs your help to make it a reality.

A new series of contemporary Maori portraits by Sofia Minson uses Western figurative painting to celebrate the mana and diversity of the modern face of Maori. “We’re creating positive images of our people to share with each other and with the wider world for hopefully centuries to come” says the artist.

For 10 years Minson’s bold portrait and mythological landscape paintings have been exhibited and collected in the USA, Europe and throughout New Zealand. The 29-year-old Auckland-based painter has won three national art awards including the Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award in 2005 and is a four-time finalist in the Adam Portraiture Awards.

One of her aims is to help revive the the art of Maori portrait painting, which has arguably been in limbo since the likes of Goldie and Lindauer. While she is inspired by their works, she says her portraits “are far from Goldie’s recordings of a vanishing race” and are intended to fill an important niche for her generation. “Nowadays we find that it is not so easy to define who or what is Maori” says the artist of mixed Ngati Porou, Swedish, English and Irish heritage. “But one thing’s for sure, our culture is alive and continues to evolve.”

Having spent much of her childhood in Samoa, Sri Lanka and China, on returning to New Zealand as a teenager, painting enabled Minson to further explore the variety of cultures and faiths she lived amongst overseas as well as reconnect with her homeland and her mixed Maori and European roots.

“I enjoy collaborating with other artists and can’t wait to collaborate with the public on this new series of portraits” says Minson, who has been featured in documentaries such as Canvassing The Treaty in 2010, which followed six artists as they deepened their knowledge about the Treaty of Waitangi and created cross-cultural collaborative artworks together at Te Tii marae. She has also been commissioned to do large-scale public artworks, in February 2014 painting an enormous portrait of musician Tiki Taane on a 40ft shipping container on Queen’s Wharf in downtown Auckland.

Minson is particularly keen to hear from those who have Ta Moko Kanohi and/or Moko Kauae – visually striking expressions of a person’s inner connection to their heritage. She asks “if you would like to help make a positive contribution to our people by sitting for a portrait, or know someone who might, please email me at, I’d love to hear from you!”

Sitters will receive a complimentary, signed, limited edition print of the finished painting for their whanau. The artist will meet with the sitter first and get to know their story, then she will briefly photograph them.


TOP Sofia Minson with her painting, The Other Sister, which is part of an ongoing Contemporary Maori Portrait Series. Sofia is interested in painting creative and inspiring Maori who are helping to evolve today’s culture through their own artforms or roles in society. The portrait subject actually is Sofia’s sister, Tess.Both siblings share Ngati Porou, Swedish, English and Irish ancestry.
BELOW LEFT Tame Iti by Sofia Minson
BELOW RIGHT Turumakina by Sofia Minson

Posted by artist Sofia Minson from
New Zealand Maori portrait and landscape oil paintings

6 thoughts on “Artist seeks men and women with facial Moko for new portrait series – Sofia Minson in Nati Link magazine article

  1. Tena Koe

    I would love to korero about your kaupapa. I have a Moko Kauae and would love the opportunity to share my korero.

    Nga mihi

    • Tena Koe Sofia
      My name is Elizabeth Nepia Jackson, my sister Tangimoe, my cousin Luvinia and I were Ta mokoed at our marae, Terere in Opotiki, back in 1998 by Derek Lardelli…
      It was a very Ataahua spiritual weekend, I have the dvd of Derek, his team and our whanau who were all there to tautoko us on this awesome journey of ours…
      I am very interested in your project and I know you will do well with this kaupapa…
      We were going over to Derek’s studio, to be Ta mokoed there BUT Derek researched us online, and he found out that we were closely related, so he decided to come to us instead, which I thought was a sign of a very humble man…
      I look forward to hearing from you soon, take care and God Bless…

      Nga Mihi Ki a koe

  2. Myself, sister and cousin all have moko kauae by Derek Lardelli. All done at the same time. Can photo of the three of us the day after. Interested in your project. Vianney

  3. T?n? r? koe e te uri o Ngati Porou….ko Tuwharetoa i te aupouri t?nei e karanga ana…e mihi ana….
    Ko te tumanako kia noho tahi t?ua ki te whakawhiti k?rero e p? ana ki w?u n? mahi…t?r? te whai t?ngata…w?hine e mau moko ana, engari kia m?hio mai koe he rahi ng? t?ngata noho ki t? t?ua taha i taua w?. Kei te mau au i te kauae moko e kii a nei t?r? te uri o Hinenuitepo e poipoia nei i ng? taumahatanga i runga i a t?tau te w?hine ….ara ng? tikanga…ng? mahi whakahirahira o runga i ng? marae w?r? atu mea ….me kaua au e whakapau i ng? k?rero i k?nei…heoi ka noho tiaki ki t?u whakautu….noho ora mai e te hoa.

  4. Kiaora my husband and I would be interested in partaking on your journey… We both have Moko and Moko kauwae …. My husband was done by Raniera McGrath in kaitaia who is a student of Derek Lardelli. Myself and four other wahine were done on Raukawa Marae by Wiremu Barriball who’s teacher is Maaka Kopua… We are keen to hear from u… Till then … Na Hiraina

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