Unanswered questions

Artist and print-maker Paora Tiatoa (Ngapuhi and Ngati Raukawa) has developed his own style of multi-pass hand screen-printing, which he often combines with inkjet prints to create what he calls “Jetscreens”. He talks to us about what makes his “print factory” go round, and why being expelled turned out to be a good thing.


Describe your aesthetic in four words.

Abstract Contemporary Māori Art

Where do you work and what do you like about it?

My studio is a half of a 40 ft shipping container, the other half is our lounge, it’s been sectioned off. What I like about it, is that it’s a section of three other containers which make up our house (on Matakana Island in the Bay of Plenty), and also that we built our house with our own hands, and the help of our builders.

You’re a new addition to a crayon box, what colour would you be?

I’d be rainbow. We need more colour in life, which is why I use pop art colours regularly in my work.

What materials are integral in your work,

I have many components that make my mechanism or print factory go round, and without one component my world can come to a grinding halt very quickly.

For hand screen printing I need; paper, 32 screens, inks, squeegee and taongas which I burn onto my screens periodically by myself, so I also need access to the burn and dry room at Te Kowhai Print Trust (Quarry Arts Centre Whangarei).

For the inkjet side of printing I do, I need paper which is only distributed by one company in New Zealand, which can be frustrating at times. Also, inks for my inkjet machine are from the same company. I need my iMac which also runs a large Cintiq drawing board, where I design my inkjet prints.

For both HSP hand screen prints and Inkjets I need backing boards A4 to A2 size, photo corners for the prints to sit in and then plastic bags.

This is the full production and all materials I need to make my world go round.



Do you collect anything?

I collect a few different things. Prints, shoes (Nike, Adidas), toys (not just any toys very specific ones), taonga (all kinds, Māori ones especially), and have recently added to my collection a 1990 Cadillac Fleetwood low-rider.

What we’re you like at 15?

Life was full of unanswered questions for me at 15.

My teenage years at high school were not good, being expelled from three high schools in Palmerston North. Boys High, QEC High School, and Awatapu High School where the

late Waana Davis expelled me, only to meet me again in 2013, at the Kokiri Putahi Indigenous Visual Artists Gathering in Kaikohe. She said, “Good I’m glad I expelled you cause look, now you’ve become an artist.”

Money is no object, which priceless art work do you buy?

It would have to be Jackson Pollock’s drip No. 5, 1948, which sold in 2006 for 140 million dollars. He is and will always be my favourite artist of all time.


Paora's solo exhibition Traded Not Faded is at Ora Gallery in Wellington from 29 October.



Images - courtesy of the artist

Looking for Marilyn

Tetris tikkeee

Bee- wi- ana

Hear no teka, see no teka, speak no teka


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