A record price has been paid for an artwork by a living New Zealand artist at an auction in Auckland last night.

Michael Smither's Sea Wall and Kingfisher 1967 sold for $342,000 at the International Art Centre.

Auction director Richard Thomson said the painting - of a sea wall built to protect part of the Taranaki coastline - was significant.


"Smither was very concerned about conservation and protection of the environment and the inclusion of a gliding kotare (kingfisher) in the painting reflects that. It really is quite a spectacular work."

He said the previous highest price fetched by a living artist was $290,000 for a painting by Bill Hammond a decade ago.

Another oil painting by Don Binney, Pipiwharauroa over Te Henga, has sold for a record price of $600,600.

Smither celebrates his 80th birthday next week.