The last major painting by New Zealand artist Charles Frederick Goldie described as a "rare national treasure" is expected to sell for more than $1 million.

A Noble Relic of a Noble Race was Goldie's last significant work, painted in 1941 before he died aged 76.

The painting is of Maori chief Wharekauri Tahuna and will be auctioned at Parnell's International Art Centre next month.

The centre's director Richard Thomson said the artwork was one of the painter's best.


"This is a national treasure and not many works of art deserve that title. This does.

"Goldie had an ability to draw people into his art because his paintings were so compelling and intriguing. It is a painting with a true presence," Mr Thomson said.

The painting has garnered national and international interest and is expected to sell for about $1.2 million.

If sold for this price, it will be the highest selling painting by Goldie.

Because the painting was a work of national significance, it would likely need special approval under the Protected Objects Act 1975 if the new owner wanted to take it overseas, Mr Thomson said.

The painting is in its original frame, thought to have been made by Goldie's father.

A Te Papa spokeswoman said the national museum wouldn't comment on whether the organisation was thinking of purchasing the artwork.

In 2013, Goldie's earliest Maori portrait, Kawhena, Johnny Coffin painted in 1892 sold at the International Art Centre for $732,500.