Fiona Pardington


New Zealand

Fiona Pardington (Ngai Tahu, Ngai Tuhaitara, Kati Waewae, Kati Huirapa ki te Puketeraki) was born in 1961 in Aotearoa, New Zealand. Of Māori and Scottish descent, she has exhibited her photographic works in Aotearoa, New Zealand, in Australia and more recently in Paris. In 2006, the New Zealand government gifted some of her photographs to the musée du quai Branly: a suite of her Hei Tiki prints from the Ngai Tahu tribe in large format.This contact with the musée du quai Branly gives the artist the inspiration to continue her photography in the complex and profound field of historical and cultural interconnections.

An acclaimed artist, Fiona Pardington was one of the representatives of New Zealand at the 17th Biennale of Sydney (May 2010). A recognised specialist in ‘pure’ or analogue photography darkroom technique, Fiona Pardington recently began experimenting with digital photography. Her most recent works reconnect with the formalism of still life photos, and more particularly as an embodiment of the concept of whakapapa (Māori genealogy). Her work looks at mourning, memory and commemoration in Māori culture from a contemporary perspective.


Whakaahua: The pressure of sunlight falling

2010 Photographic Residency


  • 1. (verb) (-tia) to acquire form, to transform, to form, to shape, to portray, to photograph, to film
  • 2. (noun) photograph, illustration, portrait, image, shot (photograph).

s an extension to her work presented at the Biennale of Sydney in 2010 (Ahua: A Beautiful Hesitation), Fiona Pardington has chosen to explore the collections of major French institutions and national collections: through life casts and death casts, she seeks to image how European explorers were seen by the people they colonised – scrutinising them in the same way they themselves were scrutinised.

“This project will allow me to use casts and sculpture in order to come full circle in a way: just as the French colonialists observed the faces of the peoples of Oceania in the 19th century, I myself will journey, as a humble yet intrepid representative of the Ngai Tahu people of Aotearoa, to the French shores to stare expectantly at the many faces of colonised races and those of the French people in their many incarnations. I truly believe that not only do the life casts of the Māori and the Pacific peoples reflect the diversity of New Zealand and the Pacific at a certain moment in their history, but also that the photos of all these casts that I intend to take to France will serve as a radiant point to explore the different cultural attitudes to this history and towards portraiture as a discipline.”

Series produced in 2010.

Fiona Pardington : Whakaahua : The pressure of sunlight falling