Thousands are expected to mourn master carver Dr Clifford Whiting

updated By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

Artist Dr Clifford Hamilton Whiting of Te Whānau-a-Apanui (ONZ) has passed away at the age of 81. Thousands are expected to mourn the master carver and leader in the renaissance of Māori art.

Born in 1936 in the small settlement of Te Pōhue on New Zealand's East Coast, Dr Clifford Whiting took inspiration from his community and the environment.

Ripeka Evans, Pou Ārahi Whakahaere, Manatū Taonga says, "He was able to take very ancient values and turn them into comtemporary conversations."

Dr Whiting is recognized for his contributions to New Zealand Arts and Culture throughout a career which spanned over 50 years.

Curator at Te Papa Tongarewa, Arapata Hakiwai says, "For over 50 years he revived traditional meeting houses, he also created modern meeting houses so it was his passion to maintain and grow Māori art."

One of his more noticeable contributions was his input and creation of the marae at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

Strategic Adviser Māori for the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Ripeka Evans says, "That piece was a statement about the conversation between Māori and Pākehā."

Dr Whiting was appointed as Te Papa's inaugural Kaihautū in 1995 and his vision for a truly bi-cultural museum continues to this day.

Evans says, "He strongly believed in New Zealand he strongly believed in Te Papa as the first Kaiahutū in that bi-cultural conversation."

Hakiwai says, "He paved the way, the challenge now for us is to continue his legacy."

Tonight he lies in state in Russell and in the morning will be taken home to Te Kaha Maungaroa Marae.