The Maori Party joins with Tuhoe and Te Arawa, and Maori people far and wide, in grieving at the loss of Arnold Manaaki Wilson, the famed artist and art educator who passed away yesterday.
"Arnold was a pioneering artist, who refined his ancestral artistic traditions with academic study, and led Maori art into the modern art world," said Co-leaders Tariana Turia and Dr Pita Sharples.
"His art reflected his own life's journey, from Ruatoki, where he was born, to the Elam School of Fine Arts at Auckland University, where Arnold became the first Maori to gain a Diploma of Fine Arts with first class honours in sculpture," said Dr Sharples.
"He then trained as an art teacher under the legendary Gordon Tovey and, along with contemporaries including Ralph Hotere, Fred Graham, Para Matchitt and Selwyn Muru, Arnold explored new horizons of Maori art and developed a new appreciation of contemporary Maori culture," he said.
"The professional and public awards and accolades Arnold received were fully deserved - the T? Kingi Ihaka Award from Te Waka Toi in 2001, recognition by his peers as Ara Whakarei in 2002, an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award in 2007, an Honorary Doctorate from AUT in 2008 and, in 2010, Membership of the NZ Order of Merit.
"But Arnold was also a family man, a tribal kaumatua, a mentor and friend to many, and our sympathies go out to all who will miss him the most," said Dr Sharples.
"E te rangatira, haere ki o tipuna, haere ki te Po, haere ki te Po!
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