Marti Friedlander obituary

By Pádraig Belton

Leading New Zealand photographer inspired by her adopted homeland

Marti Friedlander, who has died aged 88, moved from London to New Zealand in the 1950s for love and became her adopted country’s leading photographer. She first gained attention with Moko (1972), a collection of photographs of Māori women and their tā moko tattoos that she considered the highlight of her career. An earlier image shows students protesting against the exclusion of Māori players from a 1960 rugby tour of apartheid South Africa, to which New Zealand sent an all-white All Blacks team.

Protests – against Vietnam, nuclear weapons, apartheid and sexism – offered Friedlander a route to understanding her new home and what struck her as its conservatism compared to London. But so did capturing images of Māori people. On photographing a Parihaka Māori elder, Rauwha Tamaiparea, she said: “I discovered a history that I hadn’t been aware of before. I felt an affinity with her. She reminded me of the matriarchs of my Jewish youth.”

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