Do you have one of the missing Emily Harris paintings?

The 1906 Exhibition Paintings

Emily Harris painted twelve large flower studies in oil for the 1906-07 New Zealand International Exhibition in Christchurch. Six of the paintings have emerged over time but the whereabouts of the remaining six are currently a mystery. Do you have one hanging on your wall? Below we’ve put together a little guide to the flora of the remaining paintings and Emily’s signature. You can read more about the paintings in ‘Looking for the 1906 paintings’ (November, 2022)

Emily Harris’s Signature

For the 1906 paintings, Emily Harris signed them as ‘E C Harris’ written in red oil paint. Examples below:

‘E C Harris 1906’
‘E C Harris’
‘E C Harris 1906’

Flower Studies

The write-up of Emily Harris’s submitted work in the Nelson Evening Mail means that we know that the missing paintings depicted red neinei, turutu, tainui tree, and scarlet rātā. Below are some examples of what the flora looks like in nature and in other examples of Emily’s work (where applicable).

Red neinei
Also called Dracophyllum latifolium  and spiderwood.

Dracophyllum latifolium neinei flushes red | Dracophyllum la… | Flickr
‘Dracophyllum latifolium neinei flushes red.’
Dracophyllum latifolium (Neinei or Spiderwood) | Dracophyllu… | Flickr
Dracophyllum latifolium (Neinei or Spiderwood)
Mountain neinei
Harris, Emily Cumming, 1837?-1925 :Dracophyllum latifolium (Neinei). Mokau - Jan. 1890.
Emily’s depiction of Neinei at Turnbull Library.

Also called Dianella Nigra and Blue Berry

Turutu – blueberry – Dianella nigra
Dianella intermedia / Turutu by Emily Harris in ‘New Zealand Berries’
Dianella nigra

Tainui tree
Also called ‘Pomaderris apetala subsp. maritima’ and New Zealand Hazel

‘Pomaderris apetala subsp. maritima’
‘Pomaderris apetala subsp. maritima’
Tainui (Pomaderris apetala) · iNaturalist NZ

Scarlet rātā
Probably Metrosideros carminea or carmine rata

Rata • New Zealand Plant Conservation Network
Emily’s depiction of ‘Metrosideros robusta’ rata in ‘New Zealand Flowers’


Two panels, one of New Zealand mountain flowers and one of Antarctic flowers, are among the missing paintings. The two panels below are also from the 1906 collection and would be a match for the dimensions.

Emily Cumming Harris (1837-1925),‘Untitled (Clematis)’, 1906, A66.052, Puke Ariki Museum, New Plymouth, New Zealand
Emily Cumming Harris (1837-1925), ‘Flowers from the Sub Antarctic Islands’, 1906, New Zealand, A66.051, Puke Ariki Museum, New Plymouth, New Zealand

Do you think you have an Emily Harris painting? We’d love to hear from you!

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