Maori arts legend Sandy Adsett was this week awarded an honorary doctorate. He chats to Mark Story about what art means to him.

What does this honorary doctorate mean to you?
I certainly feel very honoured by this acknowledgment of the Massey University Council in awarding me this Honorary Doctorate. It means that the ongoing support and development of all our cultural arts is a valued vision for Aotearoa.

If you could credit your long tenure and teaching motivation to anything, what would that be?
Teaching motivation for me was, and is, that the personal enjoyment and engagement by the learner of each generation was influence by the rapidly changing images of the people and our arts environment.

If art has a social function, what is it?
The treasured iconic images from each cultural identity has been nurtured and refined over hundreds of years. It stamps each with their artistic statement of how they wish to see enhance their environment.

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If you had to name the most promising young Maori artist in Hawke's Bay – who would it be and why?
The most promising young Maori artist in Hawke's Bay for me would be Shanon Hawea. He is the art teacher at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Ara Hou in Napier. He has all round cultural strengths, strong leadership and special design and painting skills that is evident in his innovative, truly artistic work.

Who's your favourite New Zealand artist?
My favourite New Zealand artist is unquestionably Para Matchitt of Te Whanau-a- Apanui.