Jack Richard’s home town of Gisborne, New Zealand, has a long tradition of excellence in Maori arts.
Many of the finest examples of carved and painted meeting houses (known as Marae) in New Zealand are located in the district, and the region is home to a number of nationally renowned Maori carvers, weavers, ceramists and specialists in other fields of Maori art.
The local Polytechnic in Gisborne has a school of contemporary Maori art, called Toihoukura. It offers a range of courses in contemporary Maori art and design. Tutors in the program are nationally recognized leaders in the field of contemporary Maori art.
In order to facilitate participation by Maori students in Toihoukura programs and to encourage the wider recognition of the quality of work produced by students in Toihoukura, Professor Richards offers annual scholarships to students in the program and sponsors special commissions and awards.