Art and photography research

Mahi Toi a Whaka ahua

Researchers in art and photography undertake a dynamic and compelling range of research activities. Projects by faculty and postgraduate students lead to exhibitions, publications, moving image works, critical writing and many other creative outputs that engage national and international audiences. The university harnesses these creative energies to address important social, cultural, environmental and political issues, and other critical and contemporary matters.

Research expertise

Art and the environment

Often working in collaboration with scientists or experts across disciplines, research in this area raises environmental histories to the forefront, whilst heightening knowledge around the issues faced by communities today. Areas of research interest include land use and landscape change, impacts on whenua (lands), water quality, climate change adaptations and risk assessments, invasive species and changing ecologies.


Art criticism and theory

Our experts contribute to research about the changing aspects of contemporary art and the ways it operates within an expanding cultural environment. We have expertise in Māori visual art, contemporary New Zealand art and contemporary installation, moving image and photographic art practices.


Exhibition design and curation

We have expertise in the curation and communication of narratives and affective experiences that shape a critical awareness of the complex nature of culture and politics. Research outputs are often thematic and can contribute to larger festivals and other multi-venue initiatives. Our researchers are well connected to current exhibition networks nationally and internationally.


Memorialisation and remembrance

This area of art research explores the ways societies remember and subsequently develop approaches to memorialisation. Research encompasses memory from the personal to the national. The Memory Waka Research Group leads a number of major initiatives including national and international conferences.


Māori visual culture

Māori visual culture is a major focus of research, and encompasses diverse practices underpinned by a kaupapa Māori context. Researchers in this area are highly connected to their iwi and hapū communities while maintaining nationally recognised international research and art making practices.


Painting and Drawing

Researchers in this area are often pushing the boundaries of what is understood as drawing and painting. ‘Drawing as Expanded Practice’ utilises new technologies and engages social issues, while our painting-based researchers often work with site-specific methods and diverse ways of exhibiting.


Performance, live art and design

Our researchers are actively engaged in using live performance as a direct mode of artistic research practice. They often engage with complex social and cultural issues and activate spaces through performance strategies and situation-responsive practices.



Photography-based research utilises a broad spectrum of approaches to engaging with social, cultural and environmental issues. Researchers use modes such as documentary, visual narrative, exhibition installation, photo-book and moving image to present their work.


Sculpture and installations

In this rich area of research our faculty develop cutting-edge installations of mixed media or three-dimensional works inside and outside the gallery context.


Video art

New technologies are utilised by our researchers to develop innovative filmic and video works. These engage complex social and cultural themes and are often presented at leading international festivals as well as within gallery contexts as screen and projected artworks.


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Research projects

Student research

See some of our student research in art and photography at Massey.


Matairangi Mahi Toi Artist Residency at Government House

This residency programme was established in 2016 as a partnership between Massey University’s College of Creative Arts and the Office of the Governor General. In the grounds of Government House, a small cottage has been made available for established Māori and Pasifika artists to research and produce new work. The residency aims to encourage and promote indigenous visual arts and to build relationships with our Māori and Pasifika communities.

Find out more

Te Whare Hēra Wellington International Artist Residency, Clyde Quay Wharf

In 2014 Whiti o Rehua School of Art, in partnership with Wellington City Council, launched an International Artist Residency Programme. Now also partnering with the French Embassy, the programme is designed to bring contemporary international artists to live, work and exhibit in Wellington city. Based in a studio on the Wellington waterfront, Te Whare Hēra offers an hospitable, generative platform for the production of high quality, innovative, creative work and to foster connections and opportunities for ongoing exchange and collaboration.

Visit the Te Whare Hēra website

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