Elizabeth Kelly

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1877, d.1946

Toi Toi Hinetauhara,(Rima Faith Fraer)

  • Purchased, 1995
  • Oil on canvas
  • 1055 x 850mm
  • 95/31
  • c. 1934

Christchurch artist Elizabeth Kelly’s portrait of Rima Fraer was first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1935. Given an elegant, invented title, it was shown as one of a pair – the other depicting a young woman of European descent – that together symbolised New Zealand’s bicultural heritage. The portrait was next shown in London in 1936, then for many decades from 1942 at the New Zealand embassy in Washington.

Born in around 1908, Rima Fraer was the daughter of Margaret Parata and Te Oti Kerei Taiaroa and granddaughter of Ngai Tahu leader Hori Kerei Taiaroa, but was given to the childless Revd Charles and Annie Fraer, of Tuahiwi near Kaiapoi. The couple founded Te Wai Pounamu College, a school for Maori girls, at Tuahiwi in 1909; the school later moved to Christchurch. Rima trained as a physiotherapist, and worked in Hamilton before marrying Sidney Thorne George, an Auckland stockbroker, in 1950. She died in Auckland in 1972.

earlier labels about this work
  • Portraits and Personalities, 14 May 2004 - 1 May 2005

    The young Maori woman who modelled for this portrait was Rima Faith Fraer (formerly Taiaroa), the adopted daughter of an Anglican minister and his wife. Elizabeth Kelly has portrayed her in a way that showed her cultural background but also posed her in the manner of a European beauty. The portrait was first exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1935. The work was designed to display many facets of Maoridom – the feathers and flax headband, pounamu earring, bone tiki, cloak and mere. However, the most detailed treatment is given to the face, signalling this is the most important aspect of the work. Kelly has painted her skin with fine brushwork and subtle changes in tone. Kelly was born in Christchurch and trained at Canterbury College School of Art. Throughout the 1930s her portraits were hung regularly at the Paris Salon and Royal Academy exhibitions in London, where she received several medals, awards and honourable mentions. In 1938 Kelly became the first New Zealand woman artist to receive the CBE for services to art. Other portraits currently on display by Elizabeth Kelly are located in the Historical Permanent Collection area.