Ralph Hotere Studio joins the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Korero

Ralph Hotere’s studio on Oputae/Observation Point in Kōpūtai/Port Chalmers has been entered into the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero as a Category 1 historic place.

Dark green studio with large ornate gate and a sign that reads
The gate Hotere created from recycled materials outside his studio. Photo: HNZPTexpand/collapse

Built in 1876 as a simple four-room cottage, this building was the first studio Hotere owned. He purchased the property in 1970 after completing the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship at the University of Otago.

The studio at Kōpūtai/Port Chalmers embodies the spirit of Hotere and his work, as well as being the last remaining house on Aurora Terrace. Hotere often worked on paintings into the late hours at the studio and many of his significant artworks were conceived or created there.

Ralph Hotere was widely considered New Zealand’s greatest living artist before his death in 2013. Awarded many honours in his lifetime, 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’s studio was purchased by his friend Naomi Wilson in 1984, who has been a respectful guardian of the space making ensuring any additions are in keeping with Hotere’s aesthetic tradition.

“This unique building has outstanding aesthetic, historic, and cultural values, and is full of Hotere’s style and craftsmanship,” says Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga listing advisor, Sarah Gallagher. "Ralph Hotere was many things to many people. This listing honours those relationships and connections forged here in Dunedin and Port Chalmers in the local and wider arts community. As a city we’re lucky Hotere chose to live here and that he contributed so much to our culture."

As a city we’re lucky Hotere chose to live here and that he contributed so much to our culture.

The Hotere whānau assisted with the listing process. “We are really happy that the studio will be recognised and preserved,” says Ralph’s daughter, Andrea Hotere. “We have great aroha for Naomi and are grateful to her for making this possible. For us, the studio is a special place imbued with Dad’s wairua.”

- Rosemary Baird