John Poi was born and bred in Gisborne -Te Tairawhiti, New Zealand. He graduated from EIT Tairawhiti’s Toihoukura Maori School of Arts in 1998 with an Advanced Diploma in Maori Arts and Design. In 1999 he received a Diploma in Teaching from Christchurch College of Education. He has held an Associate Teaching position at Lytton High School - Gisborne, since 2000. John teaches Visual Arts as well as Maori Performing Arts. In 2011 John was awarded study leave and graduated from Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s Toimairangi with a Bachelor of Maori Visual Arts.
When time and other commitments have allowed it, he has continued to exhibit work locally, nationally and internationally. Following is a synopsis of exhibitions he has created pieces for:
1995 International Indigenous Wananga symposium of contemporary Visual Artists; Apumoana Marae, Rotorua.
1997 “Haka” A contemporary Maori Art Exhibition, the Celtic Connection; Edinburgh, Scotland.
2011 Windward State College, Hawaii . 2011 Matariki the Arts Festival of Feasts - Toimairangi Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Hastings.
2011 / 2014 Toi Maori Art Market - Wellington , New Zealand.
John’s artworks have a prominent and strong link to whanau. As both a visual artist and a performing artist he acknowledges that without the love and support of whanau, you are lost. This is encapsulated in the words “Taku whanau - he punga mau ai” - “My family - an anchor that holds”
His recent Poutokomanawa series “Acrylic on canvas” has strong links to his ancestors and loved ones. “ Never forget who you are and where you come from. Stand tall and be proud of your accomplishments in life. When a little lost you only have to turn to your forebears, your ancestors, your grandparents and parents for they have taught you right from wrong, they have stood staunch and steadfast in the face of adversity and they have upheld their mana and dignity.”
The passing of his parents and the birth of his children have had a strong influence on the development of his designs and composition.
John has been fortunate to have been tutored and mentored by some of Aotearoa’s finest and prominent Maori Artists in Sandy Adsett, Professor Derek Lardelli, June Grant, and Steve Gibbs. He will be forever grateful to them for the time and energy they have given to him and hopes to reciprocate by passing his skills on to future generations.
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