Artist Ralph Hotere died earlier today in Dunedin, aged 81.
"Ralph Hotere was a major figure in that generation of artists writers musicians and poets who first gave us our own voice – a warrior artist whose works were always made in a great cause," arts commentator Hamish Keith told NBR ONLINE.
One of Mr Hotere's best-known work was Vive Aramoana, a political statement that recognised victory in the fight to stop an aluminium smelter being built at Aramoana, north of Dunedin, more than 30 years ago.
Former NBR Publisher Barry Colman bought the piece in 2002 for $210,000 – then a record price for a work by a living New Zealand artist.
Mr Hotere was also known for his Black Paintings series, created during the late 1960s using black almost exclusively. His later work often referenced controversial political events, including the 1981 Springbok Tour of 1981 and the Rainbow Warrior bombing.
John Key was among those who paid tribute to the Otago artist.
The Prime Minister describes Mr Hotere as one of New Zealand’s most important artists.
“I extend my sympathies and condolences to the family and friends of Mr Hotere, who was one of only a handful of New Zealanders to be granted the country’s highest honour, the Order of New Zealand,” Mr Key says.
“Mr Hotere had a career spanning more than five decades and was a painter, sculptor and collaborative artist.
“His work is represented in major public and private collections both here and overseas.”
Mr Hotere, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2001. died peacefully at midday in Dunedin, according to a statement issued by his lawyer, Judith Ablett-Kerr QC.
He is survived by his wife, Mary McFarlane.