Traditionally books on Māori art have described the work as either 'traditional' (as in the arts of carving, weaving, painting) or 'contemporary', that is work produced post-1950s. This book presents a unique focus on Māori art by exploring the connection between the traditional and contemporary, and the place of Māori art within an international context. In doing so, it provides a framework for looking at Māori art in a new way. While there are many books on Māori art, these tend to be surveys and there is currently very little critical writing on Māori art and artists. As described by academic and author, the late Professor Roger Neich, "It leads to thought-provoking criticism of current art historical approaches to Māori art and constitutes probably the first sustained critique of the modern development of Māori art from an authentic Māori point of view." The book is extensively illustrated with 300 art works, landscapes and meeting houses, with many never before published images, including 90 especially commissioned photographs from renowned New Zealand photographers Mark Bentley Adams and Haruhiko Sameshima.
Dr Rangihiroa Panoho is New Zealand Māori and has affiliations with the northern iwi tribes of central Tai Tokerau, Northland. He has 22 years professional experience as a leading New Zealand curator and art historian. His specialist areas are Māori, Pacific, New Zealand and international indigenous art. He has published and lectured extensively, and participated in collective projects, exhibitions and presentations within the Australasian gallery circuit, New York University, Field Museum Chicago and the International Social Sciences Council UNESCO, Paris.