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Gary Whiting

Graphic Design lecturer

"My father lived and breathed art, and I've inherited that passion. It's a lifestyle choice and within the realm of art there is education, and community engagement."

Whanakao te maunga

Kereu te awa

Maungaroa te marae

Te Whanau-a-Apanui te iwi

Ko Gary Whiting taku ingoa

Following in the footsteps of his father, Dr Cliff Whiting, Gary Whiting has dedicated his life to educating the next generation of artists in Aotearoa. As a Graphic Design lecturer at UCOL, Gary says he enjoys bringing a te ao Māori approach into the classroom.

"Māori art and design is my passion and what I teach. I was raised in a household that was deeply immersed in Māori art and culture, and it's great to be able to now share that with ākonga in the classroom.

"Growing up, I learned the importance of sharing knowledge and experiences. We all have a role to play in preserving and developing our cultural heritage. It's through open dialogue and collaboration that we continue to learn and grow as a community."

Gary is currently showcasing his work at Hopukia te whetū rere - To Catch a Falling Star exhibition at Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, Foxton. He says it's not just about art; it is a journey into spirituality and the essence of Māori culture.

"The artists came together to deconstruct some of my father's work and showcase our interpretations of his visual and written mahi. Artists from all walks of life were involved and it's been really cool to be part of and see their interpretation of Māori culture through their own cultural lenses." 

Gary says that as an artist, understanding the boundaries is important, especially when dealing with sensitive cultural topics.

"We must respect the sanctity of whānau and ancestral knowledge. It's about creating safe spaces for exploration and learning, where everyone feels valued and respected."

Joining UCOL in 2011, Gary has played an important role in shaping the Graphic Design programme and creating a supportive learning environment for all ākonga. He says teaching has allowed him to continue mastering his craft.

"Working with UCOL, I've been able to expand my artistic horizons and explore new ideas.  Teaching art and design can sometimes distract you from practising what you preach, but it's essential to stay grounded in the industry and in the community." 

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When reflecting on his career, Gary says a highlight was working alongside his father on the Rongomaraeroa marae project at Te Papa Museum in the 1990s.

"It was great to be able to work on these projects with him and involve ākonga from Northland in the design work. Seeing the marae come to life and providing a learning experience for my ākonga was truly rewarding."

For those thinking of enrolling in the Creative Media, Arts and Design courses at UCOL, Gary says ākonga can expect to be challenged and inspired. 

"Getting out of your comfort zone is what art is all about! In one of my visual communications  courses, I'm encouraging ākonga to design Matariki logos that reflect Māori culture and design principles. It's a hands-on approach that blends technical skills with cultural understanding.

"I was not born in Palmy but spent a lot of my upbringing here and I thought to myself, if this course (the Bachelor of Creative Media) was around when I finished high school, I think I would have come here."

Find out more information about the Bachelor of Creative Media programme at UCOL Palmerston North.

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