Prints of Paintings by Gordon Walters

Gordon Walters is easily one of New Zealand's most popular artists. Walters' koru paintings truly deserve the much overused phrase "iconic". Why is it then that we don't have any Gordon Walters prints in stock?

It seems that with the death of Walters in 1995 and Margaret Orbell (Walters' widow) in 2006 the supply of prints to people who appreciate and enjoy Walters paintings without being able to afford an original work is being stopped by the Trustees of the Gordon Walters Estate. Does anyone know why they are taking this stance or have any other information? Please post a comment. We'll update this post as we learn more.


  1. We have written to the Gordon Walters' Estate lawyers in response to their latest missive - Quote "I was not enquiring about Kahukura - I am aware of the Estate's view on this issue from our previous correspondence.

    However your reply seems to confirm that the Trustees have decided that no reproduction prints of Walter's work are going to be sanctioned now both Gordon and Margaret have passed away.

    As a matter of courtesy please could you tell me why the Trustees do not wish to grant the right to reproduce Walter's work as art prints by either commercial publishers or non-commercial galleries such as Christchurch Art Gallery. We are understandably curious as to why the Estate of one of New Zealand's most popular artists have decided his work should not be available as prints for people who love his paintings but can't afford an original until 2045."

    We eagerly await their reply and will post their response when we get it...

  2. Update - the Gordon Walters prints impasse is still not resolved.

    Why are the trustees of the Gordon Walters Foundation being so difficult about approving prints of artwork by one of New Zealand's favourite artists? NZ artists of a similar stature such as Colin McCahon have similar foundations which approve reproduction prints - obviously it's a great way of sharing the artists' work with people who aren't in the market for an original and earning some royalties at the same time.

    Please can someone from the Gordon Walters Foundation respond with a comment below - or can any of our readers shed light on this issue?

  3. Try contacting Dr Francis Pound, used to be at University of Auckland art history department and who fronted for the Gordon Walters Foundation when Walters was inducted into the Massey "Hall of Fame". Good luck!


    Is this in breech of the above?

  5. @anonymous From the size of the Gordon Walters "print" being offered in this auction by Yesteryear Prints (who are a Christchurch suburban picture framer) you can be fairly confident that this is simply a framed postcard that was originally published by the Christchurch Art Gallery a few years ago. So very unlikely to be a breach of copyright. Goes to show what lengths people who enjoy the work of this NZ artist have to go to in order to get an image of his prints or paintings for their walls due to the antediluvian attitude of the Gordon Walters Foundation toward reproduction prints! Each sale of a print would generate royalties for the Foundation's work preserving and promoting his legacy so it's pretty silly not to be meeting the obvious demand for Gordon Walters prints.

  6. I have recently purchased a Gordon Walters poster and have some concerns as to its origins.

    It is “tama” and measures 84 x 60 cm without any other detail.

    It is in pristine condition considering the vendor bought it 10 years ago. He says he bought 3 at the time from a gallery in St Kevin’s Arcade off K Rd, Auckland.

    I am hoping you may be able to shed some light as I feel I may have been some what mislead…..

  7. Its their right to make decisions about their inheritance. It might be due to the fact "prints" belittle an artists credibility.I am an artist and I would be pretty annoyed if one of my works wended up as a mouse-pad.

  8. @anonymous You state that "prints belittle an artists' credibility". To view New Zealand art that people love to have in their homes and offices (even - shock horror - if it is not an "original") as ipso facto an erosion of the artworks' artistic merits is bizarre. Popularity and reproduction in other artistic endeavours isn't viewed as a failure. A song-writer's work is not cheapened if a million more people listen to it on their iPods, the sold out play does not diminish the merits of the script and cast! What you refer to as "artistic credibility" is a crutch used by people whose artwork doesn't sell well, the moral highground claimed by artists jealous of those more commercially successful than themselves.

    In this particular case your nonsense idea of relative obscurity ensuring the maintenance of a deceased NZ artists' "artistic credibility" is a flimsy ground for denying New Zealanders the opportunity to enjoy Gordon Walters' work more than during a once a year visit to paintings and prints buried in an art gallery. Gordon Walters produced some of the best-loved examples of modernism in New Zealand's art history. Our aim is to surround all New Zealanders with the best NZ art in their homes and offices 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Walters legacy will be kept alive through people seeing his work everyday not once a year, the conversation his work began will continue. Walters' artistic "credibility" - his contribution to New Zealand's artistic development and the evolution of our visual culture - doesn't change one ioata if his Koru editions and paintings are available as prints.

    The New Zealand artists that I respect are the ones who stay true to themselves but also succeed in changing our visual environment with their vision. If an artist is just creating art to gain a "credibility" granted to them by a small group of people whose opinions they care about that's a self-indulgent hobby not a career.

  9. Well said Anthony.
    Art should be available to everyone, not just those who can afford an original.