National | Art

Artist and sculptor Paratene Matchitt farewelled

Photo Credit / Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2011

Prominent Māori artist and sculptor Paratene (Para) Matchitt (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Te Whakatōhea, Ngāti Porou) who passed away earlier this week, aged 88, has been farewelled in Hawke's Bay.

Born in Tokomaru Bay in 1933, Para Matchitt was a leading figure in Māori contemporary art from the 1960s, with his art practice including work in painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture and carving.

He was educated at Hato Pētera College in Auckland and Ardmore Teachers Training College, becoming the first permanent art tutor at Hawke's Bay Community College, now Eastern Institute of Technology.

In the early 1970s, he was instrumental in forming Ngā Puna Waihanga, the national body for Māori artists and writers, with Ralph Hotere, Cliff Whiting, Arnold  Wilson, Fred Graham and others.

His paintings which hang in galleries around the world fetch tens of thousands of dollars and his sculptures define landscapes, including Wellington's famous City to Sea Bridge.

Interview with Paratene Matchitt, 2011.   Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa / YouTube

Matchitt's art pieces are among New Zealand's highest-profile artworks, with his mural in Kimiora whare kai at Tūrangawaewae possibly his most famous work among Māori.

Books and theses have been written about his life and work.

He was jailed for two-and-a-half years in 2001 for indecent assault of a 16-year-old girl which he maintained was consensual. He was 67 at the time.

Matchitt passed away on Monday at Ahuriri, Napier and was cremated on Friday.

Te Kāea's 2017 story on Para Matchitt's then first major exhibition in three years, The Hui, at Hastings City Art Gallery.  Source / File