MEDIA RELEASE: Renowned heritage advocates receive prestigious King's Honour for outstanding contributions
June 05, 2023 | Stories

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga extends heartfelt congratulations to two staff members who have been recognised for their invaluable contributions to the preservation and revitalisation of Māori arts in the 2023 King's Birthday Honours.

James (Jim) Schuster has been made an Officer of The New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori arts and heritage preservation. This well-deserved honour is bestowed upon Jim for his decades of service to the preservation and retention of our traditional marae arts.

Dean Whiting, Deputy Chief Executive (Kaihautū) Māori, has also been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori arts in the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours. Dean is well known for his heritage conservation work, as well as his contemporary art and design practise.

Jim (Te Arawa) and Dean (Te Whānau ā Apanui) have worked together in the Māori Built Heritage Team since 2003, although they both have histories of supporting the conservation of marae taonga that extend far beyond the last two decades. Jim and Dean's unwavering commitment to Māori art and taonga is part of the wider enduring legacy of their respective whānau and tūpuna. The work they do resonates deeply with Jim’s personal values, in Jim’s own words, "I like this work because for me, it is like working for my ancestors. By caring for these ancestral houses, they care for me."

A deep desire to conserve heritage as part of the ongoing flourishing of Māori art extends beyond Dean’s professional endeavours. Dean has served as a board member for prominent organisations such as ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) New Zealand and the Arts Council (the governing body of Creative New Zealand). His hands-on approach to helping marae has made Dean known throughout the country.

According to Dean, “If people participate in the process they can help maintain and manage their taonga in the future. There’s a very real connection they can make. Sometimes you get people who come back home to work on these projects. It’s their way of being involved with the marae, and with their tūpuna.” Dean’s design and art practise is featured in schools round the country, such Island Bay School in Wellington, and Te Kura o Te Whānau ā Apanui, Te Kaha, Bay of Plenty.

Jim is also a gifted artist. Together with his wife, Cathy, he has exhibited their works at Te Papa Tongarewa and Te Puia in Rotorua, and contributed to the tukutuku panels which were gifted and installed at the United Nations Building in New York in early 2015. Jim, Cathy, and Dean created the impressive multi-storey tukutuku installation in the foyer of the National Library of New Zealand together.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga staff, Board, and Māori Heritage Council extend heartfelt congratulations to Dean Whiting and Jim Schuster for this well-deserved recognition. Their exceptional contributions to Māori arts and tireless efforts in the field of heritage conservation have left an indelible mark on the cultural landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand.


Ellen Andersen
Director Kaiwhakahaere Tautiaki Taonga me Kaupapa Māori
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
027 41 77 445


Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga is the leading national historic heritage agency for Aotearoa New Zealand, operating as an autonomous Crown Entity. Our mission is to identify, protect, and promote heritage- Kia mōhiotia atu, kia tiakina, kia hāpaingia ā tātau taonga tuku iho.

We actively engage with communities, foster partnerships, and provide valuable resources to support those who are passionate about exploring, learning, and connecting with our rich cultural heritage. For more information, please visit our website at
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