Chances are if you're in Auckland city, you won't be far from one of Fred Graham's sculptures.
Graham's work is in the courtyard of the High Court at Auckland (Justice), on the wall outside Auckland Art Gallery (Te Waka Toi o Tamaki), in the Auckland Domain (Kaitiaki) and where Shortland St meets Queen St (Kaitiaki II).
Head further out and the metal bird that soars across Mission Bay is one of Graham's; at the Auckland Botanic Gardens, his Manu Torino takes pride of place. Around the country and the world, in private and public collections, Graham's work can be found in many more places.
Along with the likes of Dr Cliff Whiting and Ralph Hotere, he helped found the contemporary Maori arts movement in the 1960s and is now one of the most influential figures in New Zealand art.
So it amuses the 88-year-old that people often want to talk about his brief stint in the NZ Maori Rugby team in 1955.
"I say, 'I only played three games for them' but I've been a sculptor for, well, about 80 years'," says Graham, adding he played wing so he could "keep as far away from the forwards as possible".
Last night, Graham was honoured for his vast contribution to the country's arts. In front of family, friends and his wife of 60 years, Norma, Graham received the 2017 Creative New Zealand Te Waka Toi supreme award. Held since 1986, the annual Te Waka Toi awards recognise achievement and the contribution made to preserve high quality nga toi Maori (Maori arts).
Chair of Creative New Zealand's Maori Committee Suzanne Ellison says Graham's art is a cultural touchstone through which contemporary and historical issues can be addressed: "As an artist, Maori All Black and teacher Fred Graham has touched the lives of so many from different parts of society."
Although he's chuffed about the presentation, at his Waiuku home earlier in the week, Graham was taking it in his stride and says he's grateful to have had the opportunity to express ideas through art for so many years. Often inspired by Maori traditions and legends, he frequently focuses on issues that affect Maori, the loss of culture and the environment.
Born in the Waikato settlement of Horahora and educated in Hamilton, he says he owes much of his success to his father, who believed education was key to getting ahead in life. Graham showed talent from an early age, but couldn't support a family working fulltime as an artist so he became a school teacher, teaching in the Bay of Plenty, Auckland and Northland.
He sometimes worked into the early mornings making his own work and encouraged his pupils to use what they learned in his classes to look at the world in new ways and question what they saw.
"I knew they might not want to be artists but what I wanted to teach them was to look at things closely and appreciate the beauty in the world around them.
"I look at the grandkids today all on their phones and I say, 'read a book' and 'look around you', because it feeds your own imagination. Don't just rely on google; try to find other points of view and opinions."
He recalls telling one parent his son showed great promise as an artist: "His father looked at me and said, 'that's all very well but how's he going to earn a living?"
That boy was Nigel Brown, now one of our most highly regarded painters and printmakers. Brown notes in his biography he was fortunate to have Graham as one of his teachers at Tauranga Boys College.
Graham believes the perception of arts as a "nice to have" or something to do as a hobby is changing and cites his own son, Brett, as an example. He followed in his dad's footsteps and became an artist. He recalls Brett going back to his former high school, where pupils performed a rousing haka.
"I'm not sure that would have happened in the past."
Having spent the past 30 years making art and travelling around the world, Graham is content to stay home but is not considering retirement any time soon. He's working on a piece in glass that highlights water as a precious resource that needs to be preserved .
"What would I do if I stopped carving? If you don't use your brain all the time and have something to do, you can go downhill very quickly so you have to keep busy.
"Besides, I still enjoy making work."
Other award winners were: Te Tohu o te Papa Tongarewa Rongomaraeroa in recognition of excellence and outstanding contribution to Maori arts: Dr Cliff Whiting.
Te Tohu a Ta Kingi lhaka in recognition of a lifetime of contribution to strengthening Maori art and culture (five recipients): Tawhiri Williams, Kaa Williams, Manahi Paewai, Ronald Boyd Hudson and Miriama Paraki.
Te Tohu Aroha mo Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi - Whakarongo, Titiro, Korero: in recognition of leadership and outstanding contribution to the promotion of Te Reo Rangatira: Pembroke Peraniko Bird.
Te Tohu Toi Ke a te Waka Toi in recognition of a significant, positive impact on the development and practice of Maori arts: Briar Grace-Smith.
Te Tohu Whakamanawa o te Matatini in recognition of outstanding contribution to kapa haka: Louise Kingi.
Nga Manu Pirere in recognition of achievement by a young Maori artist at an early career stage: Chevron Te-Whetumatarau Hassett and Turene Huiarau Jones.