A Colin McCahon work could attract the highest price paid for a painting at auction in New Zealand when it goes under the hammer.

The Canoe Tainui is one of 220 art works in the Tim and Sherrah Francis Collection, which will be up for sale in Auckland on Wednesday and Thursday.

Art and Object auction house director Ben Plumbly expects the painting, which comprises eight panels, to go for between $1.2 million and $2 million.

Mr Francis, a former NZ permanent representative to the United Nations and ambassador to the US, died in January. His wife passed away two months later.


The couple bought The Canoe Tainui almost 50 years ago and Mr Francis wrote in 2011 that it had been with them ever since, including when they were posted overseas.

Other artists represented in the collection include Rita Angus, Toss Woollaston and Gordon Waters.

The most expensive painting sold at auction in New Zealand is Charles Frederick Goldie's A Noble Relic of a Noble Race. That went for a total price, including buyer's premium and fees, of $1,337,687 in April.