Ahorangi/Professor Sir Derek Lardelli (KNZM 2020, ONZM 2008)

Ngāti Porou (Ngāti Konohi) and Rongowhakaata (Ngai te Aweawe) Ahorangi/Professor


06 869 0847 Extension: 7892

Areas of Teaching

Māori Knowledge and Development; Visual Māori Arts


PhD (Honours), MFA (with Distinction), BA Fine Arts, DipTchg


Visual Māori Artist, Tā Moko artist, painter, carver, kapahaka performer, orator, composer, graphic designer, researcher of whakapapa and oral histories, kaikōrero and educationalist.

The focus of Tā Derek’s work is first and foremost in his connection to home, to Tairāwhiti, the Marae and in his role as Professor/Ahorangi and mentor at Toihoukura, School of Visual Arts Maori, in Gisborne.

He received an NZ Arts Foundation Laureate award in 2004. In 2006 achieved the highest mark on record for his Masters degree in Fine Arts through Canterbury University, was awarded the honour of Officer of the NZ Order of Merit in 2008 and received the Te Waka Toi Tohu Ake award for Making a Difference in the Arts in 2014. At the 2018 Maori Television Matariki awards Tā Derek won the Arts and Entertainment section and the Te Tohu Tiketike o Matariki, the Supreme award. The same year the Waiata Maori awards honored him as a ‘Keeper of the Traditions’ or ‘Icon’. In 2019 he received an Honarary Doctorate from the University of Waikato and in 2020 was Knighted for his services to Maori Arts.

As chairperson for Te Uhi a Mataora Tā Moko Arts collective, Tā Derek has been heavily involved in the retention and development of the rituals, karakia and oral histories associated with Tā Moko (traditional Maori skin marking). His knowledge of Moko combined with advocacy for Toi Maori has assisted with the repatriation of Māori remains from international museums to burials at home, for example from Musee du Quai Branly, Paris, France in 2012 and 2018.

As an artist he has participated in and facilitated numerous exhibitions and workshops in New Zealand and around the world.  In 2006, Tā Derek was the inaugural Gallipoli Artist in Residence in Turkey and in 2008 was the lead artist for Toi Māori, at the De Young Museum, San Francisco.  He has led cultural exchanges including to Canada, the USA and Japan. In 2015 Tā Derek was Artist in residence at Notre Dame University, Indiana. At many venues he has exhibited and presented public lectures on aspects of Māori Visual Arts and culture. He has headed many international delegations, including the NZ delegation to the Global Indigenous Peoples Performing Arts Festival in Taiwan (2016) and the 2018 Commonwealth Games New Zealand team opening ceremony. He has led the New Zealand Tā Moko delegation to the Pacific Festival of the Arts since 1992.

As an artist and designer Tā Derek has produced major art components for high profile installations such as the Maui sculptures on his tribal mountain, Hikurangi. He designed the fern motif for the uniform for New Zealand’s 2007 Commonwealth Games Team and created designs for Air New Zealand seen in airports worldwide. He has produced logos for several well-known companies, including Sealord and Water Safety New Zealand. Other examples of his cultural design components are the award winning Oneroa Walkway and the C Company 28th Māori Battalion Memorial House in Gisborne. Tā Derek’s design input is prominent in several building structures and office areas nationwide including the Human Rights Commission office in Wellington, the Awarua Gisborne District Council building and the HB Williams Memorial Library. His work can also be seen internationally in places such as the New Zealand Embassy in Cairo and the Cook Islands Embassy. In 2017, Nga Manu o Rongo, was commissioned by Te Papa Tongarewa and Tā Derek’s artwork now provides the entranceway to the Ko Rongowhakaata Exhibitionat the national museum in Wellington.

Tā Derek is a researcher and composer of many waiata, haka and mōteatea that capture the oral histories of Te Tairāwhiti. Since 1995 he has been a composer, performer and leader of Whāngārā mai Tawhiti Kapa Haka. His group were the winners of the 2007 and the 2017 Te Matatini National Kapa Haka Competition.

Tā Derek has worked with the All Blacks since 2005 and composed the Haka, Kapa O Pango, for the New Zealand All Blacks World Cup winning Rugby Team. He also composed the New Zealand Universities team haka ‘Wananga Toa”.

Currently a Trustee of Toi Maori Aotearoa, member of Te Papa Tongarewa’s Repatriation Advisory Panel and the NZ Olympic Committee Maori Advisory Committee Tā Derek has served on the Waitangi Tribunal, was a Trustee of the NZ Arts Foundation and works at local level supporting many groups. In recognition of his varied community contributions Derek was named as a Gisborne ‘Local Hero’ and selected as a finalist in the 2019 New Zealander of the Year Local Hero section.

Tā Derek Lardelli is regarded as one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s finest exponents of the arts. He has been prominent in explaining and promoting Māori arts to audiences in New Zealand, and around the world and continues to promote language revitalization within an arts context, portraying a future pathway for our youth.

Derek Lardelli was Knighted for Services to Maori Art in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours List.


For example see: Lardelli, D. (2011). Kapa O Pango. (Haka for the New Zealand All Blacks. Rugby World Cup.

Research Outputs

Research outputs 2021

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Research outputs 2012

Research outputs 2011