RENOWNED New Zealand artist Ralph Hotere has been farewelled in Dunedin after he died on Sunday aged 81.
He was praised as a great pioneering artist who was on a quest for justice.
More than 400 people crowded into St Joseph’s Cathedral to honour his life and work, where he was described as having a powerful artistic vision and mission for social and political justice.
Many dignitaries paid their respects, including Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chris Finlayson, Maori Affairs minister Pita Sharples and the poet Bill Manhire.
Dr Sharples said Hotere was a staunch advocate for Maori in difficult times.
“He was a philosopher that made people think, who challenged you. But he was also an advocate for the rights of Maori at a difficult time in the 60s and 70s,” Radio New Zealand reported.
Mr Finlayson said Hotere provoked discussion and thought about what is important to New Zealanders as a people.
Hotere Foundation Trust chairwoman Judith Ablett-Kerr, QC, said she was grieving but rejoicing in his life, legacy and friendship.
Hotere was well-known for his use of black since his “Black” paintings in the 1960s.
He used his work to protest against plans for an aluminium smelter in Aramoana and to comment on the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior.
In 1994, he was given an honorary doctorate by the University of Otago and in 2003 named one of the Living Icons of New Zealand Arts.
Last year he received the Order of New Zealand, the countries highest honour.