Within Hotere’s diverse life’s work the sculptures occupy a minor place in terms of quantity but occupy a major place in terms of artistic significance and power. Te Hemara is no exception. The sculpture is like a gestural drawing in steel of an arching colonnade.
It forms a gateway and a tangled silvery cloud or canopy, leading from the Gibbs house, up the hill to the historic gravesite of the Maori chief Te Hemara Tauhia, who is buried on the headland overlooking the harbour.
Ralph Hotere was born in Taikarawa in 1931 of Te Aupouri descent and he lives and works in Port Chalmers, Dunedin, New Zealand. He studied at the Central School of Art, London in 1961 and returned to Dunedin as Francis Hodgkins Fellow at University of Otago in 1969. Hotere’s oeuvre of more than 50 years
spans painting, drawing, and sculpture and is notable for light installations created with sculptor and photographer Bill Culbert and his collaborations with poets. Hotere represented New Zealand at the 5th Biennale of Sydney in 1984; at the Asia Pacific Triennial at Queensland Art Gallery,
Brisbane in 2002; was awarded an honorary LLD from the University of Otago in 1994; honoured as an Icon by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand; and awarded Te Taumata Award by Te Waka Toi recognising outstanding leadership and service to Maori arts.