“Mana Wāhine” by Sofia Minson


Limited Edition of 95 Fine Art Giclee Prints
750mm high x 542mm wide
Archival pigments printed on museum quality matte card
Personally embossed with a Sofa Minson signature
Signed Certificate of Authenticity provided
Unframed print arrives sealed in a protective tube


Sofia painted this woman from her imagination in order to honour her female tipuna (ancestors), the value and strength of women and explore ideas of culture, origins and whakapapa.

“Ko te matauranga, ko te kaha”
“Knowledge is power”

Mana wāhine is a powerful concept related to Māori feminism and much more. It is the inherent integrity, status, spiritual prestige, wisdom, tikanga, presence and strength of being a Māori woman, as gifted from ancestors and gods. It is akin to the idea of the Divine Feminine. In acadaemia it describes the theories and methodologies that examine the intersection of being Māori and female. In performance art in 2014 a highly successful contemporary dance production by the same name was unleashed on the world, which showed the strength, the spirit, the wiles and the primal beauty of woman.

This portrait evokes the courage and spiritual power of the female. The woman’s moko kauae or traditional Maori chin tattoo holds mana or dignity and provides connection to tipuna (ancestors).

The artist was thinking of the concept of “Te Here Tāngata” while painting this piece. Te Here Tangata is an ancient Maori term meaning The Rope of Mankind. As a description of genealogy, the phrase symbolically alludes to a long rope or vine, which stretches into the past for generations until the instant of creation and on into the future. In our contemporary world of instant gratification and swift development, Te Here Tāngata is a humbling concept.

The hei tiki pounamu pendant she wears around her neck personifies primeval man, the first man ever created from Sky Father Ranginui and Earth Mother Papatūānuku. This symbol of maleness and fertility is kept close to her heart, balancing and uniting the male and female energies in the artwork.

Since Lindauer and Goldie in the 19th century, there has been a surprising lack in the tradition of Maori oil portraiture. While Minson is inspired by their works, she says her contemporary Maori portraits “are far from Goldie’s recordings of a vanishing race” and are intended to fill an important niche for her generation.  As a Maori artist of mixed heritage (Ngati Porou, Swedish and Irish) she uses the traditional Western medium of oil on canvas to show contemporary Maori as a vibrant and evolving people.

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Additional information

Weight.6 kg
Dimensions60 x 10 x 10 cm

Sofia Minson is a portrait, landscape and native bird painter of Ngāti Porou (Māori), Swedish, English and Irish heritage. Using acrylics, oils and other mixed media, she works from her studio in Auckland, New Zealand.

Born in Auckland in 1984, Sofia spent much of her childhood in Samoa, Sri Lanka and China due to her father’s civil engineering work. On returning to New Zealand as a teenager, painting enabled her to reconnect with her homeland and her mixed Māori and European heritage, as well as celebrate the cultural and religious diversity that she had experienced overseas.

Since 2004 Sofia’s paintings have been exhibited and collected in the USA, Europe and throughout New Zealand. She has won three national art awards including the Molly Morpeth Canaday Art Award in 2005 and is a three-time finalist in the New Zealand Portrait Gallery’s Adam Portraiture Awards, winning People’s Choice in 2012 when the finalists’ exhibition toured to Christchurch.




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