John Pule – Biography

John Pule is a Niuean born artist, novelist and poet. John Pule’s works draw from the traditional Niuean hiapo’s palettes and narrative style, though they employ completely different motifs. In his canvases, drawings, and lithographs, Pule is not trying to revive traditional forms nor make a new contemporary identity for Niuean art: he is simply iterating a personal vision.1


Described as formidable, vital, provocative, perplexing, Pule’s densely populated canvases and intricate ink drawings are filled with bird-like monsters, tendrils of vines, text, and cloudlike patches of colour. They are deeply personal and constantly evolving, exploring everything from the stability of memory to cross-cultural to threats of extinction.2


“It is about my relationship basically with a lot of things that I come across everyday,”3 Pule states. His works are his interactions and understandings of his everyday life made tangible in an effort to root things in memory. Of the natural environment: the threat of over-fishing, the extinction of insects and animals he says, “life would be worthless if we forget.”4


John Puhiatau Pule was Born is 1962 in Liku, Niue and currently lives and works in Auckland, New Zealand. He is largely self-taught.


Pule has participated in many solo and group exhibitions including: John Pule: Hauaga (Arrivals), City Gallery, Wellington, NZ (2011-2012); Unnerved: The New Zealand Art Project, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2010); and Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane (2006). Pule’s work is held in several significant collections in Australia and internationally including the National Gallery of Australia, Melbourne, the National Museum of Scotland, Scotland, and Te Papa Tongarewa, Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, NZ.  In 2004 he was honoured with the prestigious Laureate Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand.



  1. Thomas, Nicholas. “Time Will Tell.” Art Collector, 70, October-December 2014, pp. 169.
  2. Ibid, pp. 169 – 170.
  3. Thomas, Nicholas. Hauaga: The Art of John Pule. Otago University Press: Dunedin, 2010, pp. 54.
  4. Were, Ian. “John Pule in Conversation.” Artlines, 1, 2006, pp. 14.


Full CV