The Māori Meeting House: Introducing the Whare Whakairo

An accessible, illustrated guide to the history, artistry and cultural significance of the whare whakairo or Māori meeting house.

The Māori Meeting House: Introducing the Whare Whakairo

By Damian Skinner

Publication date: September 2016
NZ RRP (incl. GST): $49.99
Extent: 224 pages
Format: Paperback, 250 x 230mm
Illustrations: 100+ colour and black-and-white images, and 10 original diagrams
ISBN: 9780994104151

This title is out of print but some copies are still available to buy at Te Papa Store.

Included in The Spinoff's 20 best books of non-fiction, 2016.

Enter and explore the powerful, ancestral world of the whare whakairo, or Māori meeting house, with this engaging illustrated guide.

Richly illustrated with more than 100 historical and contemporary photographs and original watercolour illustrations, The Māori Meeting House celebrates every aspect of these magnificent taonga (treasures) – their history and art forms, symbolism and cultural significance.

In a clear, informative and personal narrative, Damian Skinner brings together existing scholarship on whare whakairo and his own reflections as a Pākehā art historian and curator, with reference to meeting houses from all over Aotearoa New Zealand and the world. The voices of carvers, artists, architects, writers, experts and iwi are woven into the text, to give every reader new ways of seeing these taonga – whether it is your first view or your hundredth.

Equal parts history, personal essay and illustrated guidebook, The Māori Meeting House is an important contribution to contemporary discussions about Māori art and art history.


A welcome addition to the growing body of literature on the modern meeting house as a statement of Māori identity, culture and mana.’ — Ranginui Walker

This fine book is deeply felt and researched, gorgeously illustrated and eloquently written. It breathes respect and admiration for the artists and communities who produced these masterworks, taonga that adorn the landscapes of Aotearoa. A work to spend time with, and cherish.’ — Dame Anne Salmond

About the author

Damian Skinner is an art historian, writer and curator. He is interested in the history of cultural contact between Māori and Pākehā, and the relationship between art and politics in Aotearoa New Zealand. He has written numerous books, including The Carver and the Artist: Māori Art in the Twentieth Century (2008) and The Passing World, The Passage of Life: John Hovell and the Art of Kōwhaiwhai (2010), which won the New Zealand Post Book Award for Illustrated Non-fiction in 2011. Damian is currently Curator of Applied Art and Design at the Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira.