Artist honoured with Royal Society Fellowship

20 November 2017
The Lighthouse_M Parekowhai_compo-sml
Interior and exterior view of The Lighthouse by Professor Michael Parekowhai

Congratulations to Professor Michael Parekowhai from Elam School of Fine Arts, who has been named a Fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi, the first artist to ever receive the honour.

Fellowships have been awarded by the Royal Society since 1919 to acknowledge individual contributions to the advancement of science, technology and the humanities. Collectively, the Fellows comprise the Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand.

The artist of Ngā Ariki Kaiputahi, Ngāti Whakarongo and Pākehā descent has previously been named an Arts Laureate by the Arts Foundation of New Zealand as well as Nga Toa Whahaihuwaka, Māori of the Year for Arts. In 2011 he represented New Zealand at the Venice Biennale with his work entitled On First Looking into Chapman's Homer.

“This is a significant honour that recognises the importance and impact of his mahi,” says Dr Peter Shand, Head of Elam School of Fine Arts.

Professor Parekowhai is widely acclaimed as New Zealand’s most significant contemporary artist. In naming him a Fellow the Royal Society said ‘he is an artist who explores perceptions of place and nationhood through sculpture, installation and photography. His research investigates the ambiguities of identity, the sensitivities of historical memory, the role of appropriation and assimilation in the artistic canon, and the significance of biculturalism.

His public sculpture The Lighthouse, opened on Queen's Wharf in downtown Auckland earlier this year to widespread acclaim.

To find out more about the Royal Society Te Apārangi Fellows visit