Most Famous New Zealand Paintings according to me

Most Famous New Zealand Paintings according to me

This list of most famous New Zealand paintings is a follow up on the Most Famous Artworks in the world. I compiled this list from a bit of research as to the most popular artworks as seen by print companies as they sell many of the reproductions of these works along with what I know myself from working in the arts industry. I’m sure some people will beg to differ on a few of these choices but that’s the nature of the industry…it was tempting to add a painting of my own but I didn’t!


In no particular order-


  1. From Mickey to Tiki by Dick Frizzell - It portrays a cartoon 'Mickey Mouse' changing in stages to a 'Tiki.' I love this artwork and its humorous side. This particular artwork is considered an NZ Design icon  Mickey to Tiki
  2. Cass by Rita Angus – voted the most famous artwork in New Zealand by New Zealanders in 2006, Cass is still considered to be an iconic artwork and very popular as a print. This piece features an old Railway station with a solitary figure against a backdrop of mountains. I much prefer Rita’s stark simple ‘Tree’ painting myself and her many portraits however this piece deserves its popularity. Cass
  3. All ‘e Same t’e Pakeha by Charles Goldie. This famous portrait of Te Aho-te-Rangi Wharepu, Ngati Mahuta is also known as “A Good Joke” All ‘e Same t’e Pakeha
  4. Mother and Child by Frances Hodgkins - the actual title is "Woman and Child" but everyone knows this Frances Hodgkins painting as "Mother & Child". A beautiful portrait.
  5. Matariki by Robyn Kahukiwa - Matariki (the constellation The Pleadies) is the mother and her six children are the other stars Matariki
  6.  Northland Panels by Colin McCahon – very impressive series of  eight huge panels, probably my favourite works of McCahon’s, in Te Papa’s collection and worth seeing. Northland Panels
  7. The Pink & White Terraces by J C Hoyte – a very old artwork featuring the famous now non existent terraces. Pink & White Terraces
  8. Jingle Jangle Morning by Bill Hammond – or as some know it, the scary bird man as most of his works feature men with bird features!   Jingle Jangle Morning gets its title from the Bob Dylan song Hey Mr Tambourine Man.
  9.  Hongi by Robyn Kahukiwa – as in the Maori way of greeting. A screenprint on paper this is a beautiful brightly coloured artwork. Hongi
  10.  Timeless Land by Grahame Sydney – although I beg to differ on this one as I like Wedderburn and Auripo Rd better. Timeless Land an Otago landscape.
  11.  Ena Te Papatahi by Charles Goldie. A Ngapuhi Chieftainess. Today, the descendants of his subjects regard the portraits he created as taonga, or precious treasures, which provide a vital link to their ancestors. Ena Te Papatahi
  12.  Dawn/Water Poem by Ralph Hotere. During the 1980s French nuclear testing at Mururoa atoll was a major cause of political and environmental protest by the people of the Pacific. Hotere made the testing program the theme of a series of works that includes this piece titled Dawn/Water Poem. Dawn represents the atomic age, while Water represents the Pacific Ocean surrounding Mururoa, and the Poem becomes a flag of protest. The X in the middle suggests a warning to French military to keep away, or a crossing out of their actions.
  13.  Cook House by Grahame Sydney. There seems to be two versions of this available but here is the one that is the most famous  Cook House
  14.  Alfred Road Bridge by Michael Smither. I think this particular painting is gorgeous. As a 13 year old I saw Michael’s work in the Govett Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth where I went for art classes during the school holidays. I’d sneak into the gallery and marvel at his work.  Alfred Road bridge
  15.  Maheno by Gordon Walters – featuring the koru motif, as seen in Maori moko.  Maheno


There are many more amazing works by New Zealand artists, worthy of mention but where do you draw the line? Being only a new country so to speak we still have a long way to go before we have a ‘history’ as do The United Kingdom and Europe. We have to start somewhere and slowly the world is waking up to the hidden talent of New Zealand artists.

Posted: Saturday 30 January 2010


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