Famed Napier artist and sculptor Paratene (Para) Matchitt is to be farewelled on Friday after passing away this week, aged 88.
Born in East Cape township Tokomaru Bay in 1933, of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Te Whakatōhea and Ngāti Porou descent, educated at St Peter's Māori College in Northcote, and Auckland Teachers Training College at Ardmore, he first exhibited at the Waikato Society of Arts in 1962.
He moved to Napier in 1975 and became the first permanent art tutor at the Hawke's Bay Community College, later the Hawke's Bay Polytechnic Institute and now the EIT.
His work has had various descriptions, one being contemporary Māori modernism, and has graced everything from the walls of galleries, museums and private homes, to landmark features such as marae, bridges and other public places.
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A personal favourite was Te Wepu, a 7m by 7m, seven-section piecing of mainly demolition materials created at the Ōtatara Arts Centre near the polytechnic, and later installed at the National Art Gallery, Wellington, where it was blessed by Ringatū leader Monita Delamere in August 1986.
The materials had been gathered by Matchitt's Ōtatara students at building sites in Napier, the result being later acclaimed as an act of recycling that was culturally, symbolically and historically significant.
In Napier there is Nga puna Wai Whakapapa, a sculpture mainly in steelwork sited outside the i-Site on Marine Pde, which was commissioned in 1996. According to mentions of the work online, the motifs used reflect many of the good things to be discovered in Hawke's Bay.
In Wellington there are the non-traditional wooden sculptures of the City to Sea bridge over Jervois Quay on the capital's waterfront, from 1993, and the untitled massive metal and wood sculpture rising for two levels on the interior and exterior walls of Auckland's Aotea Centre.
One of the most celebrated was the Kimiora mural at Turangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia, with its elaborate use of painting, sculpture, tukutuku and koru scroll motifs, the creation of which reputedly involved hundreds of participants.
His paintings and sculptures are held in many national collections, and the work Whiti Te Ra is currently on display in the Waikato Museum's Shaping Hamilton exhibition, according to a social media post noting his passing.
He died on Monday night and his body has since been at his home and studio in Ahuriri, and was expected to be taken via Kohupatiki to Hastings for private cremation on Friday.