Rachel Mataira’s prints have been in high demand. Photo Logan Buchanan

An internationally acclaimed, award-winning photographer who spent lockdown on Waiheke is to hold an exhibition of work inspired by her stay.

Rachel Mataira is from Wellington, lives in Auckland and was New Zealand’s Young Photographer of the Year for 2019. 

While working at an accounting firm after graduating from university, Rachel began selling prints of her photos on the side and, as people began to buy them, she was encouraged her to keep honing her skills.

Those skills turned into a passion for landscape and documentary photography, including work on the Christchurch mosque attacks.

“My response to those kind of events is to make art about them,” she says, “To make sense of them through photography.”

After Rachel’s work was picked up by National Geographic and she was named New Zealand Young Photographer of the Year, she was also selected to showcase her work by leading website Saatchi Art. 

Unfortunately, due to Covid, she was unable to fly to Los Angeles for the exhibition in April – although Rachel refuses to see that as a setback.

“Considering where the world was at the time, a cancelled exhibition is the least of concerns,” she says. “There’s nothing you can do. There’s no point wasting energy on something that’s happened.”

Quitting your job during the middle of a global pandemic is not typical career advice, yet Rachel came to the realisation that her passion for photography had opened an alternative path.• Will Toogood

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