Oil on board
62.5 x 81 cm
It is not yet known when Peggy Spicer produced this work; however, it was entered into the Kelliher Art Prize Competition, which ran ‘almost annually’ from 1956 to 1977.
Mōkai is about 26 kilometres northwest of the town of Taupō. It is home to Mōkai marae, which connects to the Arawa and Tainui waka, the maunga Tongariro, and the awa Waikato. The principal hapū are Ngāti Hā, Ngāti Moekino, Ngāti Parekaawa, Ngāti Tarakaiahi, Ngāti Te Kohera, and Ngāti Wairangi of the iwi Ngāti Raukawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa. The wharenui is called Pakake Taiari, after an ancestral chief, and the wharekai is called Parehingaawatea, after his wife.
Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand notes: ‘The Taupo Totara Timber Company [sic] built the first of three timber mills at Mōkai in 1898 and completed a private railway to Putāruru in 1905. Until the late 1930s, the timber industry was probably the biggest employer in Rotorua, and there were about 30 mills around Taupō by the 1940s.’ The Taupo Totara Timber Company was for a time connected with the Fletcher Timber Company Limited.
Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga holds a number of photographs of Mōkai taken by R. Anderson in 1979, including this example, showing houses similar to those in Spicer’s painting.
InscriptionsKelliher Prize Entry No. 155 / Title: Mokai – Taupo Area / Locality: About 20 miles N.E. of Taupo / Name: Miss Peggy Spicer / Address: 24 Mainston Rd, / Remuera, Auckland / Price: 40 gns [label verso]
Fletcher Trust Collection, purchased from International Art Centre, Tāmaki Makaurau, 6 June 2023, lot 44