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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




In 1956 H. J. Kelliher offered a prize of £500 for the best oil painting by a New Zealand artist depicting the visual aspects of a typical New Zealand landscape or coastal scene, executed in a realistic and traditional manner. He invited the New Zealand Fellowship of Artists (Inc.), Auckland, to organise the competition, and Mrs A. Pearse, Director of Dunedin Gallery; P. A. Tomory, Director of Auckland Gallery; and the visiting Australian artist, Ernest Buckmaster, to act as judges. The competition attracted 201 entries.

A second competition was held the following year with three prizes of £500, 200, and 100. By arrangement with the Council of the Academy, the exhibition was staged in the gallery of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, Wellington. Robert Johnson, now of Sydney, and S. B. Maclennan, Wellington, judged over 250 entries. The geographically central location and facilities available at the academy proved so convenient that five subsequent competitions have been staged there. In 1958 there were prizes of £500 and 200, plus 10 merit awards of £25 each. The number of entries increased to 295. From 1959 till 1962 there have been three major prizes of £500, 300, and 100, and nine merit awards of £25. The entries for those years were 299, 376, 428, and 476. The prize money has now been increased to the first prize of £500, a second of 200, and a third of £150, together with eight merit awards of £25 each, and a special prize of £100 for the best entry by a competitor under 21 years of age.

The judges, nominated by H. J. Kelliher, have been M. Napier Waller (Australia), 1958; William Dargie (Australia), 1959; Rubery Bennett (Australia), 1960; William Dargie, 1961; Douglas Pratt (Australia), 1962; John Loxton (Australia), 1963; and Claude Muncaster (England), 1965.

The New Zealand Fellowship of Artists has been responsible until 1962 for organising the competitions and has attended to such matters as the circulation of notices, entry forms, receiving and cataloguing of entries, supervision of exhibitions, and picture sales. During the year 1962, however, H. J. Kelliher announced the appointment of a trust to administer future awards, thus definitely establishing the competition as an annual event.

Future competitions are to be conducted on the same basis as at present and the award will be called the Kelliher Prize for New Zealand Subject and Landscape Painting. Consideration was also to be given for setting up another trust to ensure that the art prize would be continued in perpetuity.

First Prize Winners – Kelliher Competitions
1956 Leonard Mitchell 1961 Cedric Savage
1957 Arthur Hipwell 1962 Austen A. Deans
1958 Leonard Mitchell 1963 Austen A. Deans
1959 Owen R. Lee 1964 No competition
1960 Peter Mclntyre 1965 Douglas Badcock


Stewart Bell Maclennan, A.R.C.A.(LOND.), Director, National Art Gallery, Wellington.