Press Clippings


Well-travelled artist a true 'southerner'

Otago Daily Times     08 January 2009

Peter Jean Caley might have exhibited his art around the world, including Dubai, the United States and < more >

Witarina lives on through portrait

The Daily Post, Rotorua     12 June 2008

Witarina Harris’ son Stuart looked into the painted eyes of his mother and cried. < more >

Portrait of centenarian unveiled in Rotorua

The Timaru Herald     12 June 2008

A Geraldine artist's work has been nationally unveiled. The portrait of Witarina Harris, QSM, < more >

Leading artist to exhibit work in Riversdale

Southland Times     14 July 2006

A painter whose work has been given to royals and is held in collections throughout the world is to be the guest artist at the Riversdale < more >

Earlier Clippings >>>


Witarina lives on through portrait

The Daily Post, Rotorua     12 June 2008

By Kelly Makiha.

Witarina Harris’ son Stuart looked into the painted eyes of his mother and cried.
“It bought tears to my eyes looking into her eyes again. Its like she is still alive’” the Rotorua man told the Daily Post after seeing a painting of the 101-year-old, who died a year ago on Tuesday.
The painting is to be officially unveiled to members of the public today at a ceremony at the Rotorua District Council.
The idea to gift the city a painting of the prominent Te Arawa kuia came from Sir Howard Morrison, who arranged funding from First Sovereign and Ngati Whakaue Tribal lands.
Ngati Whakaue are yet to decide where the painting will go permanently but Sir Howard said he wanted the opportunity for the public to view it.
Geraldine artist Peter Caley worked on the painting last year after being asked by Sir Howard.
“I was in Rotorua and bumped into Howard at a café in town. I said “Maybe it’s time you had your portrait done”. He said, “There is someone I feel is more important to Te Arawa who needs to be painted, but I think you have only got six months’.”
Sir Howard was worried about the failing health of Te Arawa’s much loved kuia, who starred in a Hollywood film Under the Southern Cross, later known as The Devil’s Pit, in 1929.
Mr. Caley traveled to Rotorua six times last year to be with Mrs. Harris before she died.
“She didn’t sit for me, Instead, I walked around Ohinemutu with her, I would Sit and talk to her, get to know her, sketch her, take photos.”
But Mrs. Harris died before Mr. Caley finished the painting. She had been such a huge part of Mr. Caley’s life for six months after her death shook the artist, resulting in him having to take a month off.
“I was frightened when I saw her in state that I wouldn’t be able to finish the painting and capture her again.”
But when he saw her he was overcome with emotion as if she was speaking to him, saying ‘don’t you dare think that”.
The end result is a painting that her family says hauntingly captures her smile and emotion. It was revealed to a gathering of Te Arawa elders and family members on Saturday at Tamatekapua Meeting House, at Ohinemutu.
Mrs. Harris’ only surviving brother, 84-year-old Sonny Mitchell, said he painting was “typically her”.
“I’m quite taken with it. It’s lovely”.
Sir Howard predicted the painting would become of national significance.
“You can’t put a value on it”.
He remembered Mrs. Harris as a “marvelous, marvelous woman”.
“She came to all the hui rain, hail or snow and sat right by the door in her chair.”
He said the painting was a legacy and needed to be kept somewhere special where it would be seen and appreciated.
I would like to see it in the council buildings roped off next to (Ngati Whakaue carving) Pukaki because he is her direct ancestor.”


to SIBLINGS: The painting of the late Witarina Harris with her brother, 84 year old Sonny Mitchell.


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