Michel Tuffery

Michael "Michel" Cliff Tuffery MNZM[1] is a New Zealand artist of Samoan, Tahitian and Cook Islands descent. He is one of New Zealand's most well known artists and his work is held in many art collections in New Zealand and around the world.[2]

He lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand. Renowned as a printmaker, painter and sculptor, Tuffery has gained national and international recognition, and has made a major contribution to New Zealand art.

One of his distinctive sculptures from 1994 is the life-sized work, entitled Pisupo lua afe (Corned beef 2000), which was constructed from flattened and riveted re-cycled corned beef tins. His work is shaped by his research into, and encounters with his Polynesian heritage while making use of Māori design. His mother is Samoan and his father was Cook Island Tahitian.

He attended Newlands College in Wellington,[3] and has a Diploma in Fine Arts (Hons) from the School of Fine Arts at Otago Polytechnic (1989). Many of his works explore colonialism and people's treatment of the environment.

He was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to art in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honours.[4] In 2010 he was awarded the Contemporary Pacific Art Award at the Creative New Zealand Arts Pasifka Awards.[5]

List of Works and Exhibitions

Tuffery has exhibited extensively in New Zealand and internationally.[6]

  • 1989 Tautai Artists, Gallery 33 1/3 and Louise Beale Gallery, Wellington
  • 1990 Te Moemoea no Iotefa, Sarjeant Art Gallery, Whanganui
  • 1990 Three Polynesian Artists, Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Christchurch
  • 1990 Anti Drift Net Series, ASA Gallery, Auckland
  • 1994 Bottled Ocean City Gallery Wellington and touring [7]
  • 1994 Woodcuts on Tapa, Claybrook Gallery, Auckland
  • 1994 Pisupo Lua Afe, Wellington
  • 1994 Povi Tau Vaga - The Challenge, Wellington[8]
  • 1996 7th Festival of Pacific Arts group exhibition, Samoa
  • 1997 Pacific Diaries, Hogarth Gallery, Sydney
  • 1997 Common Ground, Page 90 Art Gallery, Taranaki
  • 1998 Recent Works, Portfolio Gallery, Auckland
  • 1998 Paringa Ou, Fiji Museum, Fiji
  • 1998 Testing Traditions, Aotea Centre, Auckland
  • 1999 O le Vasa Loloto ma le Laloa, Christchurch
  • 1999 Povi Lua Noumea, and Faga Ofe E'a, in collaboration with artist Patrice Kaikilekofe, New Caledonia[9]
  • 2001 Asiasi, Jane Land Gallery, Wellington
  • 2001 Out of the Blue, Hawkes Bay Exhibitions Centre, Hastings
  • 2002 Mata Mata, Toi o Tamaki, Auckland City Art Gallery
  • 2002 Diaspora - Art of the Asia Pacific, Portfolio Gallery, Auckland
  • 2002 Pasifika,The Lane Gallery, Auckland
  • 2003 Voyages, The Lane Gallery, Auckland
  • 2003 Animated Effigy, MacKay Art Gallery, North Queensland
  • 2012 First Contact, multi-media work for the opening of the 2012 New Zealand International Arts Festival[10]
  • 2012 Siamani Samoa, Pataka Museum and Gallery, Porirua
  • 2012 50 Years of Friendship: New Zealand & Samoa, commemorative NZ coin design issued by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand.[11]
  • 2013 Made in Oceania: Tapa – Art and Social Landscapes, Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Germany[12]
  • 2015 World War I Remembered: A Light and Sound Show, multi-media installation with Ngataiharuru Taepa, Pukeahu National War Memorial Park, Wellington[13]


  1. "Queens Birthday Honours List 2008". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  2. "Michel Tuffery - Arthouse". New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  3. "Newlands' big-name artist gets to work". Scoop. 13 November 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  4. "Queen's Birthday honours list 2008". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2 June 2008. Retrieved 19 August 2014.
  5. "Arts Pasifika Awards". Creative New Zealand. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  6. Chiu, Melissa; Mason, Ngahiraka; Stevenson, Karen; Vercoe, Caroline (2004). Paradise Now? Contemporary Art from the Pacific. David Bateman Ltd. p. 99. ISBN 1-86953-584-7.
  7. "Bottled Ocean". Wellington City Gallery. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  8. Mallon, Sean; Pereira, Pandora Fulimalo (2002). Pacific Art Niu Sila. Te Papa Press. ISBN 0-909010-83-8.
  9. Mallon, Sean; Pereira, Pandora Fulimalo (2002). Pacific Art Niu Sila. Te Papa Press. ISBN 0-909010-83-8.
  10. "First Contact". New Zealand International Art Festival. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  11. Brian, Roche (2012). 50 Years of Friendship: New Zealand & Samoa. Certificate of authenticity. New Zealand Post and Reserve Bank of New Zealand.
  12. "Made in Oceania". Australia National University. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  13. Cardy, Tom. "The pick of Anzac cultural events". www.stuff.co.nz. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
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