Gordon graduated in 1983 from the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, winning the Sir Henry Kalliher Student of Honour Award for his talents. In the mid-1990s he earned Top Warrior status after a long training in Māori disciplines, and he is a role model for Māori youth through his support of rehabilitation projects at schools. A noted woodcarver who designed and carved traditional meeting houses, including the Auckland University meeting house Tane-nui-a-rangi, he is most known as a ta moko artist.
He began studying ta moko (traditional Māori body art) in 1995 and has become internationally renowned since releasing his book Dedicated by Blood (with Dutch/Indonesian photographer Patricia Steur), which captures his indigenous tattooing in photos.
Gordon has exhibited in several galleries in New Zealand and the Netherlands. An actor as well as a film and set designer, he worked on the movies The Piano and Whale Rider and received the Best Actor Award at the New Zealand Film and Television Awards in 1993. In 2004, he was nominated for the TV Guide New Zealand Television Award for Best Contribution to Design for his work as production designer.
Excerpt from Manawa—Pacific Heartbeat, 2005.