Kereama Taepa's brazen mixing of tribal design and cutting edge technology place him close to the forefront of modern Māori art. A multidisciplinary artist, Taepa has used tools such as immersive virtual reality and 3D printing alongside more traditional media like fashion and painting to create a look that is hypermodern yet still instantly recognisable as part of a long tradition.
In his current exhibition, Taepa has used the language of whakairo, Māori carving, but uses the modern tool of the 3D printer to produce his works. Taepa refers to this form of printing as "whakapī", to become a bee, in that, whereas whakairo excises material from a block, here the works are built up like honeycomb (1). That a neologism has been created for this blend of old and new is telling, and an indication of Taepa's own thoughts about the future of Māori art - not an art forever enshrined in museum practices, but one constantly evolving and adapting, refreshing itself to meet the challenges of a new time. In the artist's words, “Looking into the future, my major concern is how we may identify our kinship to these digital and virtual phenomena so that these technologies are not merely being used, but rather they are contextualised within te ao Māori itself.” (2)