Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Reo 1


During 2001, I had the opportunity to visit with the late master, Hirini Melbourne, and learn about the whanau (family) of Nga Taonga Puoro (Maori musical instruments) and also their philosophies. Hirini Melbourne is instrumental in the revival of these taonga (treasure) and has worked with friends, Richard Nunns and carver Brian Flintoff, over a period of twenty years to revive this long lost treasure. My work is a direct influence to the voices of these instruments and I wish to create works that sing, whether in painting, print or sculpture. The title ‘Nga Reo O Nga Whenua’ (Voices of the Land) comes from the show that Hirini and Richard perform when exhibiting their voices of these taonga. These works are part of a series of paintings under this title which I am working on at present. I am trying to locate a sense of visual sound within my works. Each Maori instrument has it’s own mauri (life force), wairua (spirit) and reo (voice). When given life through the medium of breath, they sing. I see my work as having the same concept, but it is the light that breathes the work into existence.

“Rhythm and Movement are the essence to life” Hirini Melbourne.

Israel Tangaroa Birch

Israel Tangaroa Birch


Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngā Puhi

(1976- )

Israel graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Design degree from the Eastern Institute of Technology in Napier, New Zealand. He is currently studying for his Master of Māori Visual Arts at Massey University in Palmerston North. Israel’s mixed-media works using a unique lacquer finish have earned him considerable attention and recognition from both his contemporaries and collectors in recent exhibitions, including “Kiwa-Pacific Connections” (2003) in Vancouver, Canada.