University mourns the loss of acclaimed photographer Dr Marti Friedlander CNZM

21 November 2016
Marti Friedlander

That is all I want my images to do – to touch people and make them think – Marti Friedlander.

Acclaimed photographer Dr Marti Friedlander has died aged 88. The University of Auckland recently awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in Literature in acknowledgement of her contribution to the art of photography in New Zealand and nearly six decades spent documenting the country’s people, landscape, culture and movements for social change

Born Martha Gordon in London in 1928, Marti was brought up alongside her sister Anne in a Jewish orphanage in the East End.

At 14, she won a scholarship to Bloomsbury Technical School for Women where she studied photography. In 1956, when she met Kiwi dentist Gerrard Friedlander, who was in the UK on his OE, she was working for two of London’s top fashion photographers Douglas Glass and Gordon Crocker.

She emigrated to New Zealand in 1958 after “falling in love at first sight” and later marrying Gerrard, who became her lifelong love and companion.

While she memorably captured a wild and empty landscape during her travels around the country, it is her striking images of people that have become her trademark.

Elderly Māori kuia with moko, artists and writers, farmers and vintners, politicians and protestors, and in particular, children, always portrayed candidly and unsentimentally.

Marti and Gerrard established the Marti Friedlander Photographic Award to financially support talented photographers and also an endowment to Auckland University Press supporting a series of books on creative lives.

Marti‘s own life and photography have been celebrated by University of Auckland Professor Leonard Bell in his 2009 book Marti Friedlander, by filmmaker Shirley Horrocks in the 2004 documentary Marti: the Passionate Eye and in her 2013 autobiography with Hugo Manson, Self Portrait Marti Friedlander.

She was admitted as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 1998.

Marti recently completed a series of 28 portraits of Waiheke Island winemakers, for a book due out in February next year.