Steve was born and raised in Gisborne. In 1978 he earned a Diploma in Fine Arts from the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he majored in painting, printmaking and art history, then completed a Diploma in Secondary Teaching at the Christchurch College of Education in 1979. He has worked as a lecturer in Māori Design at Christchurch Polytechnic and, since 1994, as principal tutor at Toihoukura School of Māori Visual Arts at the Tairāwhiti Polytechnic in Gisborne.
Steve’s innovative panel work incorporates contemporary design within a traditional context, inspired by the uniquely painted meeting houses in the Tairāwhiti region. He layers translucent washes of paint with personal references to his tribal histories of Gisborne and his papakainga, his ancestral home at Te Kuri Marae, Muriwai.
Part of a group of people committed to the ongoing development of Māori visual arts, he has travelled extensively, completing a three-month study tour in England, France and Singapore in 1983, and a six-week lecture tour in California in 1992. He has participated in many exhibitions throughout New Zealand, and his work has been showcased in the United States, Samoa and Europe. He participated in “Kiwa-Pacific Connections” (2003) in Vancouver, Canada.
Excerpt from Manawa—Pacific Heartbeat, 2005.