In Te Rawhiti II, the tangled confusion of the city looms above the façade of the spiritually charged house. The art deco-style wharekai, or dining hall, at the right had been demolished four years before this painting was made. It was replaced by a larger complex, which Robert Ellis and his wife had a hand in planning and building.
Te Rawhiti II is part of a comprehensive series of paintings that make observations about two cultural threads, Māori and Pākehā (Europeans), from a personal as well as a social perspective. In 1980 Ellis said, ‘A lot of my paintings now reflect the conflict between rural and urban life. It’s my conflict too. A conflict between rural Maori and urban Anglo-Saxon. It’s something I’m very conscious of. A personal thing that has been very difficult.’