Hotere studio for artists; process unclear

The Hotere studio at Observation Point at Port Chalmers which both the owner and Port Otago want to become an artists' residence, but not likely jointly. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The Hotere studio at Observation Point at Port Chalmers which both the owner and Port Otago want to become an artists' residence, but not likely jointly. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
The future of a studio of late New Zealand artist Ralph Hotere on Observation Point at Port Chalmers is again in the headlines.

Its owner and Port Otago are at loggerheads over its preservation.

Mr Hotere's house at Observation Point was demolished in 1993 to make way for Port Otago expansion.

Mr Hotere died in February 2013, aged 81.

It appears both studio owner Naomi Wilson and Port Otago want to retain the studio as an artists' residence, but not with the pair being part of any joint venture.

Mr Hotere's widow, Mary McFarlane, and port identity and former community board member Lana Oranji, yesterday both made brief presentations to Port Otago's owner, the Otago Regional Council.

They wanted the Hotere studio retained for the use of artists in the future.

''Ralph built much of it. It's a historic place up there and needs to be retained,'' Mrs McFarlane said.

Mrs Oranji said the studio in Aurora Tce was now ''surrounded'' by demolished homes.

She suggested an independent arbiter be appointed to settle the issue

''I hope the plan is not to demolish it,'' Mrs Oranji said.

The studio was initially part of the stables of the original house; the latter and another studio since demolished, and has been owned for almost 40 years by Naomi Wilson, who was reluctant to be interviewed yesterday.

She said that ''yes'' she would like to see the studio retained as an artists' residence, and had ''some options'' in trying to set up a trust herself.

The studio should be saved as it was imbued with the ''wairua'', or spirit of Mr Hotere, who did many of his best art works while at Observation Point, she said.

When asked about working with Port Otago, she said they had been ''bad corporate neighbours'', and because they had bought up all the adjacent buildings ''the neighbourhood had been destroyed''.

Since 2004-05, Port Otago had spent $2.86million in acoustic treatments, monitoring and separately buying four properties, the latter costing $1million.

After the ORC meeting, Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders said offers had been made to Ms Wilson five years ago and most recently a year ago. Neither offer to Ms Wilson was to buy the freehold property, but $35,000 was offered for an option to buy, Ms Wilson living rent-free and when she died the studio would be put in trust for artists.

Because of port noise issues, Mr Winders said the company was obliged under the district plan to offer noise treatments to houses, or offer to buy them.

Mr Winders said, ''Port Otago would preserve the building, in trust, and sponsor it to make it an artists' retreat.''

Mr Winders said he hoped to meet Ms Wilson in the future and offered to take interested ORC councillors to meet her as well.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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Note to Port Otago, D 12 dozer is what is required.

 

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