'Meke lifestyle' within ao Māori is the goal of a Taranaki artist

By Phoenix Manley-Green

By Phoenix Manley-Green | Te Ia Ka Oho

Young artist Karere Paraone, 22, of Ngāti Porou and Rongowhakata iwi, who left home at the age of 17 to start his career, has been called home by local Taranaki artist, Rangi Kipa, to continue his toi Māori journey. 

He had to decide whether to stay at home in Taranaki with his whānau or move to pursue his career after receiving a year 13 scholarship to the School of Māori Visual Arts, Toihoukura in Gisborne.

“Early in my journey the hardest part for me was probably having to leave my parents,” Paraone says.

“My baby for sure and my partner, I do this all for them and all I want for us is to have a meke lifestyle within our ao Māori,” he says.

Te Pihipihinga Kakano Mai i Rangiatea, the local New Plymouth Kura Kaupapa Māori school, was where Paraone attended from primary through to his senior year of high school and where his passion to live in te ao Māori was fostered.

“Since I was a kid, I’ve always been intrigued by ngā toi Māori katoa, kapa haka, tāmoko, whakairo, kōwhaiwhai you name it, I was into it, still am,” Paraone says.

“I wanna make this my lifestyle and it already almost is, so that’s where I see my future going completely surrounded by my ao Māori,” he says.

“My third-year exhibition was a huge milestone for me, even though it was the ending of my Toihoukura journey, it was also a sign of the beginning of my actual career.”

Sir Derek Lardelli, Rangi Kipa and Makō Pua are just a few of the mentors and tutors that Paraone has had the privilege of working with as he embarks on his toi Māori journey

“My ultimate goal is to go back to my kura one day and start the art programme there and I wanna start producing quality Māori artists for our community for our people,” he says.