Taku maunga ko Bavarian Hills, taku awa ko Waikaremoana. The ‘Bavarian Hills’ - a reference to where I come from. ‘Waikaremoana’ – a place of great spiritual significance for myself.

I owe much to the welcoming, nurturing and support of those Maori people who could see into my heart. I am especially grateful to my ‘Maori mum’ aunty Rewa, who took me under her wings with so much love and made me part of her life and family.I was drawn to the Maori culture and felt comfortable amongst their people ever since I came to New Zealand in 1993. The Anglo Saxon undertone of my new home country was strange to me and in many ways different to my German background. I detected similarities between Maori and Bavarian people, particularly the strong sense of tribal identity. Southern German people are generally a bit more emotional and warmhearted, I found Maori people being similar. Experiencing loving support Maori people show, especially at times of personal grief affected me and my family profoundly.

I look at my paintings as being reflections along a journey, which took me deep into the Maori world. It is a great privilege and honor for me, to be accepted as artist working in that environment. Being taught Tikanga Maori and Te Reo (culture and language) and to befriend many wonderful people, has enriched my life immensely. My paintings would not have been painted if it was not for the Tautoko and blessing of my elders. Mihi aroha ki a koutou enga kuia, kaumatua! I take the challenges along my way seriously, I don’t shrug criticism off, I enjoy and encourage debate. 

I love and respect the people I meet through my art. I see it as a privilege to be able to work with some of them. The portraits I create might help on our path towards each other as New Zealanders with different cultural backgrounds. It is not my aim to paint ‘pretty pictures’, rather to address the deep spirituality, the beauty and also the conflicts and emotions within Maoridom. I am conscious about boundaries and am proud of being who I am, my own whakapapa. I have learned much of what I am by engaging with the Maori world. It has enriched my spirituality, has given me a deep understanding about our relationship to mother earth and the universe and has taught me humbleness. 

Thomas Lauterbach

By studying Maori culture and language Thomas has acquired a comprehensive knowledge of the indigenous culture of New Zealand, his paintings radiate the positiveness which is felt by the new generation of Maori and shared by other indigenous cultures around the world. They document the changing ways in which Maori people see themselves. His art may help to create understanding of different cultures and the way they relate to each other. 

"I am grateful to have been welcomed and accepted by Maori elders and to have had their support in gaining and sharing some understanding of Taha Maori. My work is based on "aroha" (love) and the passionate belief that our different cultures have much to gain from a shared understanding. " 

With oils and print, Thomas' vivid portrait study of the Maori people reflects his sensitivity and show his affinity to the natural spirituality of the tangata whenua" (Te Maori News) 

"Mastery of technical skills, coupled with freedom of spirit" (The Northland Advocate)

Paintings are in collection of the City Art Gallery Nuremberg, Germany - the Tai Tokerau District Board, Whangarei - Tretheway Stone Industries, Auckland - Private collections in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, Tahiti and the United States. 

© photos by Peter Ginter

© photos by Peter Ginter