Rita Angus: Life and Vision

6 March – 5 July 2009

This major exhibition of the works of Rita Angus, created by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, will be at the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu for 17 weeks in 2009.

Rita Angus is widely regarded as one of the leading New Zealand artists of the twentieth century. Rita Angus: Life & Vision features 141 works drawn from public and private collections throughout New Zealand.

The exhibition reveals the full scope of Angus's work throughout her career, both in her subject matter and in the recurring themes of identity, spirituality, and nature central to her work.

The exhibition includes a diverse range of works, from iconic paintings such as Cass, Rutu and Flight to lesser known oil paintings, watercolours and drawings, sketches and preparatory studies and unfinished works.

Exhibition number 822

  • Exhibition number: 822
  • Exhibition Supporter
    Developed and toured by Te Papa Principal funding partner Major sponsor


A Goddess Of Mercy
Rita Angus A Goddess Of Mercy

The Canterbury landscape was violently shaken by the sequence of earthquakes that began in the dead of night on 4 September 2010. Parts of the vast Canterbury Plains, including the reclaimed swampland that Christchurch was built on, were literally ripped apart, while many of the volcanic outcrops and cliff faces on Banks Peninsula shattered and fell. Memories of those scenes provide a stark contrast to the serene, idealised Canterbury landscape watched over here by Rita Angus's A Goddess of Mercy, with its green and golden pastures, ploughed fields and foothills extending to the mountains beyond. Radiating peace, order and oneness with the landscape, it offers a reassuring vision after the uncertainty, stress and loss of living through the earthquakes.

In the vast emptiness, 8 January - 21 August 2016

Rita Angus Cass

'The word for a pass or saddle in Māori is nonoti or noti; Noti Raureka is the Browning Pass, not that far from Cass, which is closer in proximity to Arthur’s Pass. There’s a story about a woman named Raureka of the Ngāti Wairaki tribe on the West Coast. Raureka travelled to the east coast carrying a piece of pounamu [greenstone], which is a traditional story of how the eastern migrants found out about pounamu. I often doubt that explanation. By the seventeenth century, when Kāi Tahu were coming here, they knew about pounamu but not of the routes required to reach it. Finding a route to the West Coast was important. The man who becomes significant in that story is Te Rakitāmau, who features in the traditional accounts of the routes across the Alps. In later years, the Noti Raureka route was reserved for war parties and for freighting pounamu back to Kaiapoi. The Lewis Pass was preferred because it’s an easier walk with freight, and Browning is quite stiff.' —Sir Tipene O’Regan

(He Rau Maharataka Whenua: A Memory of Land, 17 September 2016 – 18 February 2017)