Fine art experts have recruited Wairarapa archivist Gareth Winter in a bid to trace the history of two valuable oil paintings.
Webb's, a leading Auckland auction house that specialises in fine art, has sent Mr Winter facsimiles of two paintings by Gottfried Lindauer hoping he may be able to help identify the subjects and their background.
The signed oils each thought to be worth well over $100,000 are titled Chief Ngatai and Chieftainess Ngatai but nothing else is known of them. Webb's staffer Emma Fox said the paintings are to be auctioned in March.
They are being offered by the family of Rhoda and Richard Potton, of Nelson.
The couple's son, Craig Potton, is a professional photographer who has a gallery in Arrowtown.
Both paintings are to be displayed at the gallery and also in Nelson before going under the hammer.
Mr Winter has helped the gallery with the history of paintings in the past and was described by Ms Fox as being ' brilliant' in his ability to get the needed information.
This time he is seeking the help of Rex Hemi and is calling on anyone who may know of the Ngatai family connected to the old Maori chief and his wife.
Lindauer is regarded as one of this country's old art masters, being on a par with Charles Goldie.
He was born in Bohemia in 1839, the son of a nurseryman.
It was while he was apprenticed to his father as a trainee nurseryman that Lindauer began drawing and painting flowers, but it was his remarkable portraits of Maori people painted after his arrival in this country in 1873 that stamped him as a highly-talented painter.
Lindauer painted throughout the country but many of his subjects were Wairarapa Maori people.
He lived the last 37 years of his long life in Woodville, dying there in 1926.
Text by APN News & Media Ltd, New Zealand