Internationally recognised bone carver's New Year Honours award causing controversy due to his race

An internationally recognised bone carver's New Year's Honours award is causing controversy due to his race.

Owen Mapp has worked for nearly 50 years in the field, but a distinguished Māori artist says it's inappropriate that the first bone carver to receive an award in the field is a Pākehā.

Rangi Kipa, a master in the field, says Mapp's New Year honour for Services to Māori Carving and Bone Art isn't deserved.

"My problem is I'm struggling to quantify or qualify the contribution that he's made. In Māori sculptural arts he doesn't fashion on the scene.

"To ignore that idea and award a Pākehā with this award without understanding the wider political context is short-sighted. It's politically naive and artistically dumb," Mr Kipa told 1 NEWS.

However, Mr Mapp disagrees and says his passion's tied up with Aotearoa's cultural roots.

"I don't apologise for being a Pākehā and working in a perceived Maori scene in the carving world.

"When I started carving in 1968 Rangi was two-years-old. I think some of the younger carvers in New Zealand need to grow-up," Mr Mapp says.

The issue of race casting a shadow over an honours system already fraught with debate.

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A distinguished Māori artist says it’s inappropriate a Pakeha – Owen Mapp – is the first in the field to receive such an accolade. Source: 1 NEWS