Ralph Hotere

Mitimiti, New Zealand, 1931-2013

Hone Papita Raukura Hotere, better known as Ralph, was one of New Zealand’s most important twentieth-century artists. Born in Mitimiti, Northland, of Te Aupōuri and Te Rarawa descent, Hotere was one of fifteen children in his family. He attended St Peter’s Maori College (now Hato Petera) in Auckland, before going on to study at Auckland Teacher’s College, then at Dunedin Teacher’s College, where he specialised in teaching art. While in Dunedin, Hotere also trained at King Edward Technical College until 1951. From 1952-61, Hotere worked for the Department of Education as a school art advisor in Northland and Auckland. He received a New Zealand Art Societies Fellowship grant in 1961, which he used to travel to Europe, studying painting and graphic design at the Central School of Art, London. Hotere worked and exhibited in London and France for four years, returning to New Zealand in 1965. He was awarded the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago in 1969, which prompted him to permanently relocate his studio and residence from Auckland to Dunedin. Hotere continued to work and exhibit extensively over the next four decades, until his death in 2013. Hotere’s work is characterised by a severe, almost diagrammatic approach to modernist abstraction, coupled with the use of text, often drawn from poetry or traditional Maori verse. Hotere’s paintings often employ unconventional materials which reference New Zealand vernacular architecture, such as corrugated iron and timber window frames. His work is also overtly political, referencing events such as the Mururoa atoll nuclear tests and the 1981 Springbok rugby tour of New Zealand.

Auction Results

Window in Spain


graphite and oil pastel on paper

316mm x 230mm

Achieved $6,606.88

Black Window


lithograph, 8/30

430mm x 295mm

Achieved $4,204.38

Kyrie Eleison No. 5

oil on canvas

1070mm x 1065mm

Estimate $60,000 - $80,000



brolite-lacquer on board

620mm x 630mm

Achieved $28,140.00

Port Chalmers Painting 77


brolite-lacquer on board

1185mm x 810mm

Achieved $67,000



watercolour and charcoal on paper

550mm x 355mm

Estimate $7,500 - $9,500



ink on paper

320mm x 320mm

Estimate $3,500 - $5,500

A Union, Jack?


lithograph, 9/50

760mm x 560mm

Achieved $2,931.25

Kyrie Eleison No. 5


oil on canvas

1070mm x 1065mm

Estimate $30,000 - $60,000