Raised in Waitara, Taranaki province, where the Land Wars of the mid-1800s left a bitter inheritance, Rangi is motivated to continue customary Māori art traditions in contemporary contexts. Trained as a carver at the Maraeroa Carving School in Porirua City, he has also mastered the making of taonga puoro (Māori musical instruments), to whakairo (sculpture) and ta moko. The celebrations at Waitangi in 1990 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Waitangi encouraged Rangi to apply for special admission to the University of Waikato, from which he earned a Bachelor of Social Science in 1993. He enrolled in the Master of Māori Visual Arts program at Massey University in 1999. Rangi is now exploring new media such as Corian, a space-age heatproof and stainproof composite material. His eye for ethnographic detail in wearable works like tiki (carved figures) provides a spin on the historical devaluation of these revered Māori icons and makes them highly crafted, elegant taonga (treasures) that reaffirm their place for 21st-century Māori.
Rangi Kipa’s contemporary hei tiki carving was featured on the New Zealand Post $1.50 stamp in the 2009 Matariki series.
Excerpt from Manawa—Pacific Heartbeat, 2005.