Fred Graham was born in Arapuni and raised in Horahora, on the banks of the Waikato River.
Having trained to be a teacher, throughout the 1950s Graham worked as an arts adviser to Māori primary schools throughout Rotorua and Te Tai Tokerau/Northland, while continuing to paint and teaching himself to carve in wood and stone.
Graham’s work integrates Māori mythology and art practices with Western modernism. This interest, which first developed in his paintings, is carried through in his sculptural works. He often abstracts and simplifies customary forms, and later sculptures employ a range of media, including stainless steel, fibre board and stone.
Graham received the Te Waka Toi Te Tohu Aroha mō Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu Award in 2017. In 2018, he received the Arts Foundation Icon Award and was named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
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