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Marti Friedlander


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Marti Friedlander CNZM’s † Biography

Last Updated:
28/05/2024, 10:37 am
Arts Foundation Icon 2011
"I was so incredibly lonely and I thought to myself, look around you, Marti. There are other migrants here. They're feeling the same. Why don't you take photographs of this strange country. And that's how it all began."

Marti Friedlander has had a long career as a photographer. Born in London, Friedlander spent her childhood in a Jewish orphanage. She won a trade scholarship at age 14 and studied photography, subsequently securing a job as a photographic assistant in a portrait and fashion studio in Kensington. She married New Zealander Gerrard Friedlander in 1957 and came to live in New Zealand in 1958.

Homesick and lonely, she committed herself to photographing a country she believed to be on the brink of great change. Over the years, her work was recorded in the books Moko: Maori Tattooing in the 20th Century (1972) with Michael King; Larks in a Paradise (1974) with James McNeish; Contemporary New Zealand Painters A-M (1980) with Jim and Mary Barr; Pioneers of New Zealand Wine (2002) with Dick Scott and Marti Friedlander: Photographs (2001) with Ron Brownson and Marti Friedlander with Prof. Leonard Bell (2009). In 1999, she was awarded the Companion of NZ Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to photography. Her book Marti Friedlander: Photographs (with Ron Brownson) was shortlisted at the 2001 Montana Book Awards. Her work has been exhibited at the Photographers' Gallery in London, the Waikato Art Museum, and in a large and celebrated retrospective at the Auckland Art Gallery in 2001.

In 2010, Friedlander generously gave her photographs from The Moko Suite to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. The collection consists of 47 portrait photographs of Māori kuia with chin moko or traditional tattoos. She also contributed images to historian Michael King's 1972 book Moko: Maori Tattooing in the 20th Century, touring New Zealand to capture these kuia at a time it was thought the art of moko might be lost to future generations.

Marti Friedlander died 14 November 2016