Richard studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, completing his Doctorate of Fine Arts in 2004. Among his many achievements include participation in the International Sculpture Symposium in France in 2001. He was the first New Zealand sculptor ever invited to the event. The following year, Richard was awarded a Pacific Innovation and Excellence Award from Creative New Zealand. He has also published two books, Kaitiaki Mentorsand My Journey, which tell of his life experiences from his early years in forestry
Richard’s contemporary work merges techniques of the traditional carver and contemporary sculptor. He works in a variety of mediums, including steel, concrete, wood and bronze. Mātauranga (Knowledge), 2001, a steel work situated in a courtyard behind The University of Auckland’s School of Creative and Performing Arts, uses forms and patterns derived from traditional Māori carving. Four steel sheets, each cut to the shape of an abstract fish, are perfectly aligned. As Linda Tyler notes, the cluster of multiple fish puns on the term ‘school’ and reflects back on the sculpture’s location. More recently, Richard has been working with Manurewa Intermediate School to design the school’s marae. Out of this project, Richard developed a solo exhibition, Ako Ako, held in 2014. Ako ako is a Māori principle that stressesthe reciprocal relationships between students and teacher. In that spirit, works made by students were gradually added to the exhibition and presented alongside Richard’s work.
At the forefront of Richard’s practice is the celebration of whanau and community. Richard’s major millennial sculpture He Taonga Hiranga Whakanui Whanau(A Gift to Portray the Importance of Family) 2000— or The Family, as the sculpture is sometimes known — consists offive separate structures, each differing in size and design. Grouped together at the corner of Wiri Station and Great South Road, the work is symbolic of a family unit. The hand prints of successive generations of Richard’s own family cover the surfaces. Richard also wanted to engage the community in the project, and so invited students from neighbouring colleges to produce designs representing their school and community, which were then embossed intothe sculpture. Made from reinforced cement and standing at over eleven metres tall, He Taonga Hiranga Whakanui Whanauis Auckland’s largest public sculpture and has become an icon of Manukau City.
Richard has exhibited throughout New Zealand, Australia, France, United States, Japan, Canada and the Pacific region. Notable exhibitions include Ako Ako, Nathan Homestead, Auckland, 2014; New Zealand Sculpture on Shore, Fort Takapuna Historic Reserve, Auckland, 2009; Turning Tides, University of California, California, 2006; The Parrot Fish Returns at The Art Studio, Rarotonga, 2005; Re)settled/(Re)viewed: Recent Expressions of Pacific Identity, Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts, 2005; Nga Puna Waihanga, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Pakuranga, 2005; A decade of hard yards, Reef Gallery, Auckland, 2003; and Parallel Bodies, Whangarei Art Museum, Whangarei, 2002.