A prominent New Zealand artist has been granted interim name suppression after being accused of raping a 12-year-old girl more than 30 years ago.

He first appeared in court late last month to face four counts of rape, the Dominion Post reported.

Three of the charges relate to specific dates in 1978 when a rape allegedly occurred, while one is a representative charge.

He did not initially have his name suppressed but when he became aware of media interest in the case he contacted his lawyer and was granted interim name suppression by Judge Jeremy Doogue in Auckland District Court yesterday.

Detective Constable Mark Greaves, from Auckland adult sexual assault team, said police arrested the man on March 30.

The complainant, now aged in her 40s, reported the alleged offending last year, he said.

The accused will reappear later this month for a post-committal conference.

- NZPA