Ruth Smith

Programme Coordinator, Toi Reo Lecturer, Toihoukura, Tairāwhiti


06 869 3114 Extension: 7814

Areas of Teaching

Te Reo me ōna Tikanga, Toi Reo, Māori Performing Arts, Museum and Heritage Studies – Traditional Knowledge


BA Māori (Hons) 1st Class Te Panekiretanga o te Reo Māori


At first glance, I am an oddity in a school like Toihoukura. I don’t fit the conventional idea of a person who works in an art school.  I have no art credentials nor, before teaching at Toihoukura, have I ever been linked to the creative industries in any meaningful way.  My foray into the world of Māori Visual Arts stems from my passion for language.

I am a linguist – I love languages. This speaks directly to the core of who I am as a person, and educationalist. Toi Māori is a language that visually records the journey of my people throughout our history. Te Reo Māori, both spoken and written formats, complement the telling of those stories.  And herein lies my journey into the arts, and a strategy called Toi Reo.

The ‘brain child’ of Professor Derek Lardelli, the literal translation of Toi Reo is ‘Art Language’ but the philosophy is ensuring that these languages are so intrinsically linked, they lend themselves to the future retention and cultural survival of both languages.  By adopting this collaborative language approach, Toi Reo provides the pathway to embracing all other languages within Te Ao Māori including performing arts, and traditional narratives that encompass whakapapa, mōteatea, karakia, whaikōrero and karanga.

I am privileged to be a part of a team that is multi-faceted, creative and inspiring to my own teaching practice. In this environment that is Toihoukura, pathways are always being explored which have potential, or directly contribute, to keeping Toi Reo current, relevant, vibrant and most importantly, ALIVE!

Research Outputs

Research outputs 2017

Research outputs 2016

Research Outputs 2014