The standard of the Keirunga Art Exhibition has lifted this year despite the community group suffering significant fire damage to their Havelock North complex last year.

More than 50 firefighters battled a blaze in Keirunga Gardens last August but Keirunga Artists president Richard Moorhead said the quality of artwork since produced had not faltered.

"It's wonderful to see the positive way the artists have responded to this exhibition when we've been working under difficult circumstances. We're having to use other buildings and deal with other groups."

The president said Roy Dunningham had spent hours selecting 80 paintings, out of a total 120 submitted, for the annual exhibition yesterday.

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"He was very impressed with the standard. He did a selection for us three years ago and he couldn't believe the improvement in the work. He was very excited about the standard this year so that's really good."

Mr Moorhead said many artists had saved their best for the 50th anniversary.

"I think because it's 50 years people have been really keen to put their best work forward and it's shown because it's a very good exhibition. The selector had quite a job getting down to the last few because the standard was so high."

The exhibition will be hung in the Havelock North Function Centre today and be opened to the public on Friday at 5.30pm at an event where the finalists are announced.

"Then on Saturday Roy Dunningham will be doing a floor talk, which is also open to the public, from 9am. He will walk about the paintings and give criticism and helpful ideas; the artists and people who come and listen love it."

The free exhibition is open to the public and will run from 10am to 4pm each day until September 24.

Following last year's fire, the group was now in the process of starting an "exiting rebuild" of the buildings they lost in the blaze.

"By this time next year we will have some lovely new exhibition spaces and all the areas like the theatre, pottery and artist studio will be working again."