Colleen Elizabeth Waata-Urlich, born in 1939 and died September 10, 2015, she was a New Zealand ceramicist.
Of Maori descent, she belonged to Te Popoto o Ngapuhi ki Kaipara and Te Rarawa.
Through education, involvement in Maori art collectives and production of exhibited work, Colleen was dedicated to the development of Maori art.
Colleen worked as a trained teacher and later returned to study.
She gained a Master of Fine Arts with honours from the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Applied Arts.
Colleen conducted research on the influence of Lapita pottery patterns within the Pacific.
This research was the basis of her Master of Fine Arts with a subsequent paper published in Pacific Archaeology: Assessments and Prospects.
This research also influenced Urlich’s clay work, which is based on customary knowledge and often acknowledges Pacific genealogy and female Māori deities.
Nga Kaihanga Uku was founded in 1986 in order to support Maori Clay workers.
Colleen was a founding member of Ngā Kaihanga Uku, alongside Paerau Corneal, Baye Riddell, Manos Nathan and Wi Taepa.
She was a committee member for Te Atinga, a platform that supports contemporary Māori artists that operates under Toi Maori.
She was also a member of Kauwae, a group of Maori women artists that formed in 1997.
Colleen was a member of Ngā Puna Waihanga, a collective of New Zealand Māori Artists and Writers that formed in 1973.
For the exhibition Kohia Ko Taikaka Anake, which was developed in collaboration with Ngā Puna Waihanga, The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Te Waka Toi, Colleen was the regional organiser for Te Tai Tokerau.
In January 2015, Urlich, along with seven other artists with links to Te Tai Tokerau, travelled to Yeppoon, Queensland, to work for 12 days with a group of Aboriginal artists.
Colleen Waata Urlich died at age 75 on September 10, 2015.