Senior kaiako – Rauangi Sandy Adsett has been presented with an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from Massey University.
Sandy, who established Toimairangi in Hastings in 2002 and is one of New Zealand’s most highly regarded artists, received the honour on Wednesday at the Massey graduation in Palmerston North.
Sandy graduated with a Master of Māori Visual Arts (MVMA) from Massey University in 2006.
His initial arts training was as an arts specialist for the Department of Education’s Advisory service, where he was involved in implementing a new Māori Arts focus into the 1961 schools art syllabus.
In 1993 he was appointed principal tutor at Tairāwhiti Polytechnic in Gisborne, developing a wānanga approach for a more contemporary style of Māori arts programme for Toihoukura School of Māori Visual Arts. He returned to his Ngāti Kahungunu roots in 2002, setting up Toimairangi.
Sandy was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to art in 2005.
He says completing the MMVA was a significant undertaking.
"The requirements of the MMVA in having to engage in historical research, two solo exhibitions and documentations were the challenges that attracted me to the course. Things that I might never have otherwise done," he says. He completed the course under the tutelage of Professor of Māori Visual Arts Bob Jahnke.
Sandy says the honorary doctorate in Fine Arts is recognition of the many people who have supported him in his work and studies.
"To me the doctorate also shows that Massey University positively acknowledges the importance of cultural arts identity in Aotearoa by offering programmes like the Master of Māori Visual Arts, one of our highest forms of academic achievement in Māori visual art. I respect that."
While he respects all forms of artistic discipline, nearing age 80 there is one he remains passionate about.
"Definitely painting. I like being confronted with the challenges that Māori compositions, design and colour still gives me. However, I’m enjoying teaching. So, while the energy is still there, and students continue to respond positively, we will see. But I do look forward to spending more time in my own studio."