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Sad passing of Fridtjof Hanson 17 Jan 1942-15 September 2021

Fridtjof, devoted Quaker and treasured member of Taranaki Monthly Meeting and strong supporter of its founding in 2018, died peacefully on 15 September 2021 after a long battle with cancer. His family held a private service for him with Quaker silence woven into the service on Sunday 19 September at AhuAhu Beach Lodge. Attendees were limited to 50 because of Covid Level 2 restrictions and six local Friends were invited to attend. 

His guiding light was sourced from George Fox “Walk cheerfully, answering that of God in everyone”.

He is remembered as "a kind and gentle, talented man" who was also a Renaissance man, exceptionally well read, with a remarkable intelligence, endowed with hands of great dexterity and precision whether in service of his work as a surgeon or as an artist. He researched his interests through a wide lens, seeing everything as interconnected, and was passionate about sharing his deep knowledge with others.

He continued working, despite suffering severe pain, to the very end, determined to complete his final sculpture of the horse Kiwi winning the Melbourne Cup which symbolised his life-long love of horses and his admiration for great achievers who demonstrated courage, persistence and vision. He himself exemplified this trait. Fridtjof was inspired to create bronze sculptures to immortalise the great achievers he admired and Kiwi was gifted to the Waverley community. Completing a sculpture is only part of the creative story: finding locations for his sculptures and funding the bronze casting also required networking, resilience and perserverance. 

Additionally, he wished that the sculpture advocate for compassionate treatment of horses by promoting the use of the bit-free bridle. He collaborated to research this thoroughly. He designed his own version based on a Bedouin design and taught others how to make them. One had been made in memory of him and was placed on Fridtjof's simple wooden casket during the service in a moving tribute. Read Fridtjof's rationale for a change from use of the bit in his last statement The Important Bit About Horses.


Fridtjof turned his hands to sculpting after his retirement in 2001 from a long career as a general and vascular surgeon.  Link to an article about Fridtjof's legacy of sculptures commemorating local heroes in The Taranaki Daily NewsUse this link to see further Stuff links featuring his sculptures. 

Fridtjof began with a sculpture of a small heroic dog. He then thought larger, much larger, sculpting a life size bronze statue of Sir Peter Snell, the triple Olympic Gold medalist and one of the most decorated middle distance runners of all time. This sculpture is on the main street of Opunake, Snell's hometown. He also sculpted another dog, Harawene.  This was followed by the surveyor Carrington in the CBD, Colonel Malone at Stratford and his sculpture commemorating Armistice Day with an unknown soldier looking across the Tasman Ocean on New Plymouth foreshore where local recruits embarked the trains at the start of their journey to Gallipoli. He did not honour war but the sacrifice of self for the greater good; he wanted to educate people about the futility of war. Refer to his Artistic Statement on Armistice Day. He also dearly wished to balance these military sculptures with one of the conscientious objector Archibald Baxter but was thwarted over several proposals by supporters of the RSA. HIs latest sculpture of the horse Kiwi being ridden by Jimmy Cassidy, has yet to be caste in bronze and erected at Waverley. Donations through Givealittle towards a goal of $200,000 are welcomed to complete Fridtjof's legacy.

He is survived by his beloved wife Joanna; their daughter Kersti; son Christian and two grandsons, Lucas and Blake; and also his two brothers Nils and Derek. Fridtjof was a man of great presence who will be missed by all who knew him. 

E Te Atua Awhina Mai
E te Atua manaakI mai
Ake, ake, Amine.