A reward of $5000 is being offered as part of a quest to find a painted mural that went missing from the Wairoa Centennial Library in 2001.

E Mervyn Taylor's mural depicting Maori tangata whenua and colonial settlers in a Wairoa landscape was last seen in 2001 during renovations at the library, when it was removed and placed in storage.

The search for the missing artwork is being undertaken by the Massey University College of Creative Arts in Wellington, where Mr Taylor studied when it was formerly known as Wellington Polytechnic.

Bronwyn Holloway-Smith is the director of the E Mervyn Taylor Mural Search & Recovery Project, and said the reward money had come from a generous donor.


"We are calling on anyone who might know of its whereabouts to come forward and help us locate this remarkable artwork."

Half-way through last year, the college began efforts to recover 13 known murals that Mr Taylor, a significant New Zealand artist, craftsman and designer, produced between 1957 and 1964.

He used tiles, carved wood panels, sand-blasted glass windows and paint to create his distinctive works in a truly New Zealand language, Ms Holloway-Smith said.

At Wairoa Library, staff recollected a female family member visiting Wairoa and requesting the return of the work but the family were unaware of such a request and no records had been found to suggest its whereabouts.

Mr Taylor was also known for his sculptures, paintings and illustrations and devoted his life to moving beyond colonial perspectives to create a distinctive South Pacific way of seeing the world.

His 13 murals formed an important body of work that was part of New Zealand's cultural heritage, Ms Holloway-Smith said.

"Taylor was passionate about the value of the creative arts within New Zealand.

"From his position as a Pakeha artist, he actively supported the protection and promotion of Maori culture in an era when dominant colonial influences threatened its decline.


"We are eager to hear from anyone who might know what happened to the Wairoa Library mural."

The Wairoa Library painting is large, measuring approximately 3600mm x 2800mm, and divides into several panels when dismantled.

Only one reward of $5000 will be given to the first person who provides information leading to the rediscovery of the mural.

Information may be given anonymously, with no questions asked.

To date the project team had identified five works that were missing and potentially lost, two that were partially hidden, and six in good condition in locations such as the Khandallah Presbyterian Church in Wellington and the Otaki War Memorial Hall.

For more information visit Murals.nz