Two historical masterpieces by some of New Zealand's leading artists from the 20th century have been discovered in a private collection headed to auction in Australia.

Charles Frederick Goldie's Pokai also known as The Strategist as well as Gottfried Lindauer's Maori Girl Learning The Haka will go up for sale at an auction in Sydney in May.

Sotheby's Australia chairman Geoffrey Smith said the company was "honoured to
be entrusted with two exceptional and historically significant works of art by New Zealand's greatest artists".

"Both artists have international reputations for their unique depiction of Māori people and their cultural traditions and Lindauer was the subject of a major exhibition, Gottfried Lindauer: The Māori Portraits at the Alte Nationalgalerie in Berlin in 2014 to 2015."

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The auction record for Goldie is $1,339,500 while Lindauer's is $220,000.

Charles Frederick Goldie's Pokai (The Strategist) is expected to fetch up to $400,000 NZD. Photo / Supplied
Charles Frederick Goldie's Pokai (The Strategist) is expected to fetch up to $400,000 NZD. Photo / Supplied

The two works were bought by a Sydney collector from a New Zealand gallery almost 30 years ago and had remained hidden from the public since then.

In 1901 Goldie began to travel and document Māori people, as well as those who visited Auckland when attending the Native Land Court.
 
Goldie had great respect for Māori culture, and was devoted to preserving the heritage of the Māori people through his art, a Sotheby's spokesperson said.

Lindauer came to New Zealand in 1874 and received commissions from prominent Maori chiefs, as the artist accurately recorded their facial tattoos, clothing, ornaments and weapons.