Māori artist shocked to find her art already being sold online

By Mahina Hurkmans

Palmerston North-based freehand artist Danni Ruakere made her passion for art her main source of income after she went on maternity leave with her daughter over a year ago. However, she was shocked to find that her art pieces were already being sold on Facebook by someone else.

It has started to become a common occurrence on the internet.

"I wanted to spew I was so angry, I was shaking. I have never been so angry in my life, I don't know how to explain it because I didn't think it would ever happen to me," says artist Danielle Ruakere (Taranaki).

When Ruakeke went to advertise her artwork on the Facebook page, Buy Māori Made, she was shocked to discover that her art had been used by someone else.

"I didn't even think that it would happen to me from the get-go.  I've got watermarks on everything that I put up on my Facebook page and Instagram but obviously that doesn't stop people from getting copies of prints that they've been given or bought from me.  I never thought that anybody would steal my art to begin with so it's pretty gutting really."

A lot of thought goes into these pieces, they are not just drawings.

"They tell me about their whānau history, their whakapapa and if it's going to be a gift of what that certain person is into, or what they've achieved in their life. And kind of just go from there and put everything into it, whether it be moko designs representing their whānau," Ruakeke says.

"I love our native birds so I will take one of them and put everything that I think that's got to do with Aotearoa into that image, what represents us as a country."

For many years, she has had a passion for art but when her daughter was born she made this her main source of income.

"My daughter has just turned one after lockdown, so I'm trying to make enough money so I can stay home with her and watch her grow up for a bit until she goes to daycare and kindy because I don't want to miss out on her milestones."

Ruakere is now looking at ways to better protect herself and her work in the future.