Isaiah Rameka – He tāngata

Being an artist gives me a voice. I’m not a confident speaker, the voice within my paintings is louder than my own voice”.  Isaiah Rameka, July 2021

Tai Tokerau artist Isaiah Rameka is of Ngapuhi iwi and Ngati Wai and Ngati Hine hapu descent. His collection of twenty three oil portraits on show in He tāngata, continue to express his deep concerns with the representation and portrayal of both his own and other cultures across Aotearoa. Concerns relating to discrimination, racial profiling and stereo-typing are issues that strongly underpin his art practice and through his work he aims to question and depict a more balanced view. This collection of framed portraits explores ideologies around marginalization and how diverse cultures are perceived, represented and understood within a broader contemporary context.

Since graduating from North Tec in 2019 with a Bachelor of Applied Arts, Isaiah Rameka has maintained a rigorous studio practice and regularly exhibited in group shows in Whangarei. He is also half way through a post grad Diploma in Maori Visual Arts with Massey University, which he hopes will lead into the Masters Programme. Born in Whangarei in 1998, it wasn’t until Rameka was a student at Tikipunga High School that he got serious about drawing. “My teachers really encouraged me to draw and see that I had a talent for the medium”.  As a school leaver he enrolled in the Art Academy Programme at Whangarei’s North Tec where in his second year of study he discovered painting. It took a while to find his confidence with this new medium and initially painted in variations of black and white. “Colour really scared me! I didn’t know how to mix colours together and had no idea how to translate what I saw in nature or in a photo into a painting”. Eventually with the help of his tutors and his passion for painting, he gained the confidence to mix colours and discovered “all the beautiful colours”. He was hooked. “When I did my end of year exhibition in the Art Academy that was the turning point when I knew I wanted to be a professional artist”.