Koru Paintings

Koru Paintings

The Maori culture of New Zealand creates beautiful pieces of artwork featuring Koru designs. Master this motif in a colorful painting.


1. During a unit of study focused on Australia and New Zealand, invite students to investigate the art of the Maori people. A Koru is a curved shape representing a baby fern frond. The Maori culture of New Zealand uses this motif in their artwork. Organize a variety of text and electronic resources for students to use during this research. Students may work individually or in teams of two for this activity.

2. The Koru symbolizes new birth and growth. As a class, look at pictures of fern plants ready to unfurl. Group members discuss what shapes the plants make as they open. Ask students to compare the ferns to actual samples of Maori art. Students use a Crayola Erasable Colored Pencils to practice making Koru sketches on a piece of construction paper.

3. To design a Koru painting, students use a colored pencil to sketch one large Koru on a piece of construction paper. Suggest they draw two smaller Koru on either side of the larger one. 4. Using a paintbrush, students paint each Koru a different color. Use another color to fill in the background. Try a hard-edge style of painting by using a flat watercolor brush loaded with paint to create even strokes and to build up an even bead (thick edge) around the color. To keep colors from blending, allow an area to dry before applying wet paint to adjacent areas.

5. While the final artwork is drying, ask students to write a summary paragraph reflecting their learning about the Maori culture and the Koru paintings. Post students writing with artwork in the classroom.