Ralph Hotere dead at 81

04:15, Feb 24 2013
Ralph Hotere
IRREPLACEABLE TALENT: Artist Ralph Hotere after receiving the country's highest honour, Member of the Order of New Zealand, in December, 2011.

Artist Ralph Hotere, who has died aged 81, was one of New Zealand's most important artists whose work stood up for social issues.

Hotere died peacefully at midday in Dunedin, according to his lawyer, Judith Ablett-Kerr ONZM QC.

"It is with deep regret and profound sadness that I advise of the death of Ralph Hotere ONZ," she said in a statement.

He is survived by his wife, Mary McFarlane.

Hotere was a painter, sculptor and collaborative artist and was regarded as one of New Zealand's most important contemporary artists.

During the ceremony to confer his Order of New Zealand membership in February last year, Governor-General Jerry Mateparae said of Hotere that his "contribution has been to enrich the cultural and social fabric of Aotearoa-New Zealand".

One of Hotere's paintings sold for $183,000, in November last year.