Paratene Matchitt

Last updated

View of the City to Sea Bridge City to Sea Bridge.jpg
View of the City to Sea Bridge

Paratene Temokopuorongo Matchitt (10 August 1933 – 19 July 2021) [1] was a New Zealand sculptor and painter, known for combining traditional Māori art forms with those of modernist art. His work also references events from New Zealand history, particularly the Māori prophetic movements of the nineteenth century and most specifically Te Kooti.


Early life

Matchitt was born in Tokomaru Bay in 1933 of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Te Whakatōhea and Ngāti Porou descent. He was educated at St Peter’s Maori Boys' College. [2] [3]


City to Sea Bridge with Michael Fowler Centre (left) and Wellington Town Hall (right) in background City to Sea Bridge with Michael Fowler Centre and Wellington Town Hall in background.jpg
City to Sea Bridge with Michael Fowler Centre (left) and Wellington Town Hall (right) in background

Matchitt's art formation began with helping his father and grandfather on his workshop at Edgecumbe. [4] He went to the Auckland Teachers' Training College in 1955 and 1956. [4] After graduating as a teacher, he took a Dunedin-based course in teaching arts and crafts in schools. In 1957, he began his career as arts and crafts adviser for the South Auckland Education Board. He was one of the artists who pursued Māori Arts and Crafts courses at Ruatoria with Pine Taiapa. [4] In November 1964, Matchitt was exhibited with other major Māori artists (Clive Arlidge and Fred Graham) in Hamilton. [5] At the time of the Te Pakanga commission (one of his greatest bodies of work) in 1974, Matchitt was an Arts Advisory Officer in South Auckland. [2] Matchitt is best known for his large-scale public sculpture such as the City to Sea Bridge in Wellington (1993) and Auckland’s Aotea Centre (1989). [6]

Heritage Fountain, Napier. Heritage Fountain Napier.jpg
Heritage Fountain, Napier.

Several of Matchitt's works use symbols taken from Te Kooti's flag Te Wepu (The Whip), a large red pennant created by nuns at a Catholic mission which had various symbols on it: a crescent moon, a cross, a mountain, a heart pierced by an arrow, and a six-pointed star. [7] Matchitt used these symbols in several works including the City to Sea Bridge, Aotea Centre, [8] 'Te Wepu Assemblage' (1986), [9] 'Te Wepu' (1986), [10] 'Huakina' (1986) [11] and "Heritage Fountain" ("Nga Puna Wai Whakapapa"), a fountain and metal sculpture in front of Napier Visitor Information Centre. [12]

Matchitt's 'Ringatu III' in Alison Park on Waiheke Island had to be restored at the cost of $8,000 after being hit by taggers. [13]

Prison & legacy

Although Matchitt was a leading figure in contemporary art in New Zealand since the 1960s his work is currently not celebrated due to his criminal conviction. [3] Matchitt was jailed for two and a half years in 2001, convicted of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl. [14] In 2006 the High Court at Napier threw out charges against Matchitt of drugging and date-raping a 29-year-old woman, citing no evidence that the woman had either been drugged or raped. [15]

Matchitt's biography influences curators and writers in their consideration of promoting and including his work, for example a survey exhibition was put aside after his conviction. [3]


Matchitt died on 19 July 2021, aged 88. [16]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rita Angus</span> New Zealand artist (1908-1970)

Rita Angus, a New Zealand painter, has a reputation - along with Colin McCahon and Toss Woollaston - as one of the leading figures in twentieth-century New Zealand art. She worked primarily in oil and water colour, and became well known for her portraits and landscapes.

Shona Rapira Davies is a sculptor and painter of Ngati Wai ki Aotea tribal descent. Currently residing in Wellington New Zealand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gottfried Lindauer</span> Bohemian and New Zealand artist

Gottfried Lindauer was a Bohemian and New Zealand artist famous for his portraits, including many of Māori people.

Michael Te Rakato Parekōwhai is a New Zealand sculptor and a professor at the University of Auckland's Elam School of Fine Arts. He is of Ngāriki Rotoawe and Ngāti Whakarongo descent and his mother is Pākehā.

Michael "Michel" Cliff Tuffery is a New Zealand artist of Samoan, Tahitian and Cook Islands descent. He is one of New Zealand's most well known artists and his work is held in many art collections in New Zealand and around the world.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Māori traditional textiles</span> Indigenous textiles of the Māori people of New Zealand.

Māori traditional textiles are the indigenous textiles of the Māori people of New Zealand. The organisation Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa, the national Māori weavers' collective, aims to preserve and foster the skills of making and using these materials.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cliff Whiting</span> New Zealand artist

Clifford Hamilton Whiting was a New Zealand Māori artist, heritage advocate and teacher. Whiting was born and raised in Te Kaha, New Zealand, and affiliated to the Te Whānau-ā-Apanui tribe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">City to Sea Bridge</span> Bridge in Wellington City, New Zealand

The City to Sea Bridge is a pedestrian bridge and public artwork located in Wellington City, New Zealand. Opened on 31 October 1993, the wedge-shaped bridge crosses arterial road Jervois Quay, connecting the public spaces of Civic Square to the Wellington waterfront precinct at Whairepo Lagoon. Around the square are the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington Town Hall, Wellington City Art Gallery and Wellington Central Library.

Jacqueline Fraser is a New Zealand artist of Ngāi Tahu descent.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arnold Manaaki Wilson</span> New Zealand painter (1928–2012)

Arnold Manaaki Wilson was a New Zealand artist and educator of Māori descent. He is regarded as a pioneer of the modern Māori art movement.

Molly Morell Macalister was a New Zealand artist. Known for painting, woodcarving, and sculpture, her work is held in the collection of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Brett Graham</span> New Zealand sculptor

Brett Graham is a New Zealand sculptor who creates large scale artworks and installations that explore indigenous histories, politics and philosophies. Of Ngāti Korokī Kahukura and Pakeha (European) descent, Graham was born in Auckland, New Zealand, where he currently resides.

Gina Matchitt is a New Zealand jeweller, weaver and artist. Her work combines Māori pattern and language with contemporary pākehā brands and symbols.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mata Aho Collective</span> New Zealand Māori women’s contemporary art collective

The Mata Aho Collective is a group of four Māori women artists, Erena Baker, Sarah Hudson, Bridget Reweti and Terri Te Tau. They are known for their large scale fibre-based art work.

Denis O'Connor is a New Zealand-based ceramicist, sculptor, and writer who has exhibited both in New Zealand and internationally.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fred Graham (sculptor)</span> New Zealand sculptor and educator

Fred Graham is a New Zealand artist and educator recognised as a pioneer in the contemporary Māori art movement. In 2018 was the recipient of an Icon Award from the Arts Foundation of New Zealand, limited to 20 living art-makers.

Diane Prince is a painter, weaver, installation art practitioner and set designer and affiliates to the Maori iwi Ngā Puhi and Ngāti Whātua from the north of New Zealand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sandy Adsett</span> New Zealand artist, curator, educator

Raymond Henry "Sandy" Adsett is a New Zealand visual artist and educator. He is acknowledged for championing the art of kōwhaiwhai painting, creating a context for the artform within the development of contemporary Māori art.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bob Jahnke</span> New Zealand artist, professor (b. 1951)

Robert Hans George Jahnke is a New Zealand artist and educator, well-known for his graphic and sculptural artwork. He is a professor of Māori visual arts at Massey University.


  1. "Death search: registration number 2021/20743". Births, deaths & marriages online. Department of Internal Affairs. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  2. 1 2 Paratene Matchitt, Te Pakanga series, Chartwell Collection (retrieved 5 May 2011)
  3. 1 2 3 Amery, Mark (4 August 2021). "Moving culturally beyond cancel culture". Stuff. Retrieved 5 August 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. 1 2 3 DUNN Michael, 2002 - New Zealand Sculpture : A history. Auckland : Auckland University Press, p.134
  5. SKINNER Damian, 2008 - The Carver and the Artist, Maori Art in the Twentieth Century. Auckland : Auckland University Press. p.117
  6. "Wellington City's Art in the Public Eye". city gallery wellington. 3 March 2010. Archived from the original on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 1 April 2011.
  7. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (1998). Dream Collectors: One Hundred Years of Art in New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: Te Papa Press. pp. 118–119. ISBN   0-909010-48-X.
  8. "Metal and wood sculpture". Auckland Live. Retrieved 1 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ""Te Wepu Assemblage"". University of Auckland. Retrieved 1 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. "Te Wepu". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 1 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. "Huakina". Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  12. "Hawke's Bay artist and sculptor Para Matchitt dies". NZ Herald. Retrieved 1 November 2021.
  13. "$8000 fix follows attack on artwork". 6 March 2012.
  14. Haines, Leah (25 June 2006). "Artist struggles to put troubles behind him". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  15. "Artist's rape charge dismissed". New Zealand Herald. 20 June 2006. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
  16. "Hawke's Bay artist and sculptor Para Matchitt dies". Hawke's Bay Today. 22 July 2021. Retrieved 23 July 2021.