New Zealand


Director/Screenplay: Merata Mita

Production co: Everard Films Ltd

Producers: Merata Mita, Eliza Bidois Owen

Cinematography: Kelly Brown

Editor: Rongotai Lomas

Sound: Dick Read

82 mins



Press Materials


“Maori Ralph Hotere is New Zealand's premiere modern artist. His modernist works embody a spirit that is timeless and originates from an indigenous core that acknowledges no boundaries when it comes to creativity. An elegantly woven documentary highlighting Hotere's works by acclaimed filmmaker Merata Mita, Hotere is a negotiation of space between different thoughts, different worlds, different views, and different media, which really aren't so different after all. Rather than being reductive about Maori and indigenous art, Hotere's transcendency can only be described by a quote from Louis Armstrong, "If you have to ask, you'll never know." — N. Bird Runningwater, Sundance Film Festival 2002


“In the seven years since Merata Mita, director of the landmark documentaries Patu! and Mana Waka, began her film about the famously reticent Ralph Hotere, acknowledgement of his significance within our culture has continued to grow – and so has his reticence. Mita describes her intentions in making the film as ‘in keeping with the way Hotere perceives his art’. We are delighted that she has promised us the première screenings of her long-awaited work.” — Bill Gosden, New Zealand Film Festival 2001

Hotere is a 35mm documentary about a complex man who is Aotearoa (New Zealand's) greatest living artist. Ralph Hotere is intensely creative and wildly innovative yet he has produced works of profound refinement and essential distillation. This film is about these works and his refusal to expound upon them.

Hotere offers a fascinating journey through forty years of art. For a man who has been described as mysterious, austerely formal, dark, minimalist, and who melds industrial forms with acute political awareness, Ralph Hotere is a fascinating subject.

“Language falls short of describing much of his work and this film certainly shows that. Many a critic or reviewer has come up short with their attempts to communicate the intent or meaning in his paintings, prints and installations, let alone his use of harsh and hard textures.

“There is no surface left for him to deface or mark exquisitely. His work with recycled materials is unequalled. The film is all about this stuff and more. It's about one man's quest for beauty and perfection among the most banal, the most ordinary landscapes and materials.” — Merata Mita

“The film, Hotere, is rooted in the awareness and earthy wisdom of Ralph Hotere.


“Ralph Hotere has confronted us with all manner of texture and material, on canvas, corrugated roofing iron, glass, stainless steel, through windows, with light and darkness, No 8 fencing wire, in installations, alone and in collaboration.

“To many he is a visionary with his finger on the pulse. Like his art, he is a man of ambiguity, allegory, beauty and complexity. Natural and religious symbols, the contradictions between sacred and secular, dark and light, are underlying themes, which serve the prophetic and aesthetic functions of his work.

“It is left to us to turn the key to the door of communication in his works, on rectangular frames of celluloid, illuminated by shafts of pure light flashing through his black, and colour. The film does not view Hotere through labels. And it does not deny the spectator’s right to respond, to challenge, to accept, to reject, to plumb the depths, to become involved.” — producers notes

“There are very few things I can say about my work that are better than saying nothing.” — Ralph Hotere