Resting place ... Hone Papita Raukura ''Ralph'' Hotere is
carried to the top of Te Maunga Hione cemetery at Mitimiti
yesterday. Photo The Northern Advocate
Ralph Hotere, who from humble beginnings became one of
New Zealand's most important artists, has been laid to rest in
the tiny Northland settlement where he was born 81 years ago.
He was buried in ''Hotere Lane'' of a hilltop cemetery
overlooking his home marae at Mitimiti, North Hokianga, and
what his brother Moss Hotere described as ''a million-dollar
view'' of dunes and pounding west coast surf.
In contrast to the artist's dramatic arrival on Friday on
board an Air Force NH90 helicopter and the crowds that filed
through Matihetihe marae over the weekend to pay their
respects, yesterday's final day of his tangi was a relaxed,
About 150 people, including many of his wife Mary McFarlane's
family from Otago, squeezed into the marae's whare tupuna for
a mass led by Pa Henare Tate. Another hundred followed the
service outside via loudspeakers.
Following the service, his casket was carried into St James'
Church next to the marae, stopping at the grave of his
mother, Ana Maria, as the church bell tolled.
The pallbearers and mourners then made the long trek on foot
to the top of Te Maunga Hione, the hilltop cemetery where
Hotere's father and some of his siblings are buried.
Amid the chants and hymns the artist provided a last moment
of drama when the soft sand gave way, sending the casket
tumbling in too soon and forcing the grave diggers back to
work before the final tributes.
On Sunday, friends and family members sat up all night in the
whare tupuna exchanging stories about Hotere and recalling
his humour, generosity and gentleness. - Peter de Graaf,
The Northern Advocate