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More Women to be Featured at NZ Portrait Gallery

More Women to be Featured at NZ Portrait Gallery

People want to see the faces of more women featured in the national collection held by the New Zealand Portrait Gallery. That has become clear from a Who’s Missing? popular vote to name New Zealanders whose pictures should be included on the walls of the gallery on Wellington’s waterfront.

The gallery has devoted the whole of May to the exercise in which people are invited to nominate three men or women who deserve to be included in the collection. At the end of the month an artist will be commissioned to paint a portrait of the most popular choice.

After less than two weeks, the race is headed by women, including suffragette Kate Sheppard, who led the fight that made New Zealand the first country to give her gender the vote and whose face adorns our $10 note but has not made it into the portrait gallery. Other trail-blazing women include prison researcher Celia Lashlie and teenage rape victim Louise Nicholas.

Former prime minister Helen Clark is one of the few politicians to make the list, which includes writers Janet Frame and Eleanor Catton.

Male nominees include Tohu Kakahi, a Maori whose historical importance has often been ignored. He was responsible along with Te Whiti-o-Rongomai for making the Taranaki village Parihaka a symbol of pacifist protest against 19th century government land acquisitions.

NZPG director Gaelen Macdonald said: “We think the voice of the New Zealand public should play an important part in the development of the gallery - someone whom you believe is expressive of New Zealand’s distinct identity, our culture and traditions.” Her assistant Ruby Eade, who is collating the entries, said: “From writers to cricketers, artists and philanthropists, historical and contemporary, there has been a broad net thrown – which means many of the entries only have one vote to their name.”

Nominations can be made in person at the gallery, Shed 11, on Queen’s Wharf, by email to, on or by Twitter @nzportraitgal


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