> Skip to content
  • Published: 20 October 2020
  • ISBN: 9780143775157
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $45.00

Ralph Hotere: The Dark is Light Enough

A Biographical Portrait



A significant new biography of Ralph Hotere provides the compelling life story of this major New Zealand artist.

Vincent O'Sullivan's compelling, nuanced portrait of the great New Zealand artist Ralph Hotere brings the man and his art to life.

Ralph Hotere (Te Aupouri and Te Rarawa; 1931–2013) was one of Aotearoa’s most significant modern artists.

Hotere invited the poet, novelist and biographer Vincent O’Sullivan to write his life story in 2005.

Now, this book — the result of years of research and many conversations with Hotere and his fellow artists, collaborators, friends and family — provides a nuanced, compelling portrait of Hotere: the man, and the artist.

"Vincent O’Sullivan has given us the remarkable story of a small boy, Hone Papita Raukura Hotere — born in 1931 near Mitimiti on the coastal edge of the Hokianga — who first becomes Rau, then Ralph, and eventually an iconic, stand-alone signature: HOTERE. I love the tale about Ralph being invited to explain his work to the Queen. It’s not hard to guess how he must have felt. Now he would simply be able to hand Her Majesty a copy
of this book, give one of his quiet coughs, and say, ‘Here you go, this should do the trick’."
— BILL MANHIRE

"Ka rawe! This rangatira book by Vincent O’Sullivan leaves no doubt as to Ralph Hotere’s position on the paepae of New Zealand artists."
— WITI IHIMAERA

  • Published: 20 October 2020
  • ISBN: 9780143775157
  • Imprint: Penguin
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 368
  • RRP: $45.00

About the author

Vincent O'Sullivan

Sir Vincent O’Sullivan (1937-2024) was an editor, poet, short story writer, novelist, playwright, essayist, academic and critic and served as literary editor to the New Zealand Listener. Among other residencies and fellowships, O’Sullivan held the Katherine Mansfield Memorial Fellowship in Menton, France, and won numerous literary prizes throughout his distinguished career, including several Montana Book Awards. In 2000, he was made a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. He was a graduate of the University of Auckland and Oxford University, and lectured at Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Waikato. In 1997, he became Director of Victoria University’s Stout Research Centre, and was awarded Emeritus Professor of English. In 2004, he was awarded the Creative New Zealand Michael King Writer’s Fellowship, and in 2006, he received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement. He accepted a knighthood in December 2021.

Celebrated for his powerful intellect, and for the broad range of his writing, O’Sullivan also earned international acclaim as the joint editor, with Margaret Scott, of the five-volume Letters of Katherine Mansfield.

Also by Vincent O'Sullivan

See all

Awards & recognition

Ockham New Zealand Book Awards

Winner  •  2021  •  General Non-fiction Award