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Colin McCahon poems to Rita Angus.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-2008/3

Scope and Contents

Written in soft pencil. The poems, addressed by McCahon to Rita Angus, were written probably around 1972, not long after Angus' death (1970); they make reference to various points in their long friendship and provide insights into major events in their lives. The poems are very significant both from the point of view of the cultural importance of writer and subject represented and the light they throw on their relationship, but also from a literary point of view: McCahon is known primarily as an iconic New Zealand artist rather than a writer, but he loved poetry both classic (Coleridge, Hopkins, Dickinson) and modern (Baxter, Brasch, Caselberg, Mason, Hyde). In these poems he literally speaks for himself in a way he seldom does in his paintings. Because they are written in his hand, the poems are also interesting visually, partly because of the familiarity and esteem of his handwriting. Contents: Folder 1: 'Christchurch : about 1939' Folder 2: 'Clifton 1948'. Folder 3: 'Clifton - later'. Folder 4: 'Titirangi'. Folder 5: 'Rita in Northland. A poem for many friends'. Folder 6: [untitled: begins 'The bicycle boys may now rejoice']. Folder 7: Us : Wellington.


  • ca 1972


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Cotton gloves must be worn while handling these items.


0.15 metres (7 folders)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred from City Art Gallery, Wellington, to Library on 15 September 2001.

Existence and Location of Copies

The poems were published in book form by the Holloway Press: McCahon, Colin. 'Rita : seven poems / by Colin McCahon ; edited with an afterword and notes by Peter Simpson. Wellington [N.Z.] : Fernbank Studio ; Auckland [N.Z.] : Holloway Press, 2001.


NRAM Y4607.

Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand