Otago Daily Times – 25 April 2022

A unique art studio in Port Chalmers has been registered as a category one historic place.

The studio at Observation Point belonged to the late Ralph Hotere, a New Zealand artist, who died in 2013.

It was built in 1876 as a four-room cottage and was the first studio he owned.

Hotere bought the property in 1970 after completing the Frances Hodgkins’ Fellowship at the University of Otago.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga chief executive Andrew Coleman said it was exciting to see new additions to the heritage list which reflected New Zealand’s recent cultural and artistic heritage.

A Heritage NZ spokesman said Hotere was widely considered New Zealand’s greatest living artist before his death and was the first artist of Maori descent to be written into a Pakeha history of New Zealand art.

He used his creative gifts to confront issues such as social and political justice for New Zealanders, environmental issues, nuclear war, apartheid and racism.

Hotere lived and worked in Port Chalmers for  more than 40 years.

He revitalised many of the harbour’s long-forgotten Maori place names by writing them into his artwork.

Heritage NZ listing adviser Sarah Gallagher said the  studio had “outstanding cultural significance, and is symbolic of artists’ needs for  … time and space in which to create, grow and thrive”.