Alister Austen Deans

Category Three: Nationally Recognised Notable New Zealanders

Date of birth

2 December 1915 at Christchurch, a descendant of the pioneering Deans family of Riccarton

Date of death

18 October 2011


Alexander (Alister) and Nora Deans


Elizabeth Hutton in 1946


Seven boys – Alister, Nicholas, William, Paul, Stephen, Michael


  • Governess for 2 years
  • Medbury Preparatory School
  • Christ’s College
  • University of Canterbury School of Art
  • Post-war bursary Sir John Cass College, London 2 years


  • Began career in 1939 as an independent artist until outbreak of World War II, when he joined the NZ Expeditionary Force, and was sent at once to Egypt where he carried on his art as often as opportunity allowed.
  • Wounded in Crete, he carried on painting in prisoner-of-war camps, painting camp life, environs and portraits of fellow prisioners for the last four years of the war.
  • Recognised as one of New Zealand’s most outstanding artists.
  • Paints in both watercolour and oil.
  • In 1981 he traveled to Antarctica to paint.
  • While living at Peel Forest, South Canterbury Austen continued to paint into his 90s.


  • OBE for services to art

Last updated: 16 Sep 2021