Rutu (goddess painting)

Rita Angus1951

Te Papa

Te Papa
Wellington, New Zealand

Rutu looks strikingly similar to Rita Angus, but she did not see it as a self-portrait. The painting combines iconography, references from many sources, and markers of Angus’s own identity – the fish on her collar symbolise her astrological sign, Pisces.

With blonde hair, blue eyes, and brown skin, Rutu represents a merging of Māori and European cultures – Angus believed this was the key to New Zealand’s identity as a Pacific nation. It is an idealised vision, defined by Angus’s personal experiences and references as a Pākehā artist.


  • Title: Rutu (goddess painting)
  • Creator: Rita Angus
  • Creator Lifespan: 1908 - 1970
  • Creator Nationality: New Zealander
  • Creator Gender: Female
  • Creator Death Place: Wellington
  • Creator Birth Place: Hastings
  • Date Created: 1951
  • Location Created: New Zealand
  • Physical Dimensions: h707 x w548 mm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Credit Line: Purchased 1992 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. © Reproduced courtesy of the Estate of Rita Angus

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