A rare Goldie portrait with the potential to sell for more than a million dollars is likely to break records as the most expensive New Zealand painting sold at auction.

Believed to be the last portrait Kiwi artist Charles Frederick Goldie ever painted, A Noble Relic of a Noble Race is being auctioned at the International Art Centre.

It's one of the many pieces of art on sale as part of the Important, Early and Rare auction at the centre in Parnell, Auckland this evening.

If it breaks $1 million it will be the first Goldie work to do so at auction.


Centre director Richard Thomson said the 1941 oil painting of chief Wharekauri Tahuna, which was privately owned, was tipped to go for between $800,000 and $1.2 million.

"But well beyond that would not surprise me."

He said the most a Goldie had sold for was at auction in London, where the top bid reached about $960,000.

In November 2013, the International Art Centre sold Goldie's first painting for $732,000.

Mr Thomson said the artist's last piece was in some ways more significant than the first.

"After fifty-odd years of painting, he's perfected his technique," he said. "This is Goldie at his very best, it's absolutely priceless."

Mr Thomson said Goldie's lifetime of artistic prowess was "very much at the heart of our national artistic history and identity".

"He's so iconic, everyone remembers him, it's a magic name in the art world."

Goldie stopped painting in 1941. He died six years later in 1947.

Other works of significance at this evening's auction included pieces by Peter McIntyre, Colin McCahon, Evelyn Page and Frances Hodgkins.