Hone Papita Raukura (Ralph) Hotere Collection

In October 2021, the Dunedin Public Library received some 780 items that constituted the personal library collection of Carey’s Bay resident Ralph Hotere (1931-2013), widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s most important artists. Understandably, the collection contains books pertinent to the New Zealand arts and literature scenes from the 1960s onwards, for example, books by and about James K. Baxter, John Caselberg, Colin McCahon, O.E (Ted) Middleton, Bill Manhire, Joanna Paul, Hone Tuwhare, and Gordon Walters. Overseas artists and writers are also included, such as Brassai, Gaudi, Mondrian, and Matisse. Catalogues such as those issued by the Auckland City Gallery, John Leech Gallery, Auckland, and the Tate Gallery, London, are also present.

As the collection is a personal working library, there are books on a wide range of topics such as music, sculpture, social issues, te ao Māori, New Zealand history, dictionaries and encyclopaedias, cookbooks, and the Cuban Revolutionary War, especially Che Guevara. Presentation copies exist, those books gifted to Hotere by friends and well-wishers, many with personal inscriptions. Many of the books have been signed by Hotere and some contain fascinating marginalia and doodles. Along with the books, there are a range of serials, ephemera, and vinyl records.

The retention of an artist or writer’s personal library is a rare occurrence. The Dunedin Public Library is fortunate, through the kind generosity of Mary McFarlane, that this has happened. The Hone Papita Raukura (Ralph) Hotere Collection is now fully catalogued and accessible through the reading room, 3rd floor, Heritage Collections. It will be of considerable interest to future researchers.