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Christopher Aubrey's 1878 watercolour, looking towards the surrounding coastal hills, depicts his impressions of the young township.
Kaitangata and Districts Promotions co-ordinator Jean Proctor said the painting was among around 100 included in a Christchurch art auction next Wednesday and was expected to fetch between $12,000 and $15,000.
She believes the painting would be a "valuable pivot" for the town's proposed heritage centre and museum.
Ms Proctor hoped a a bid could be made on the day.
"In order to secure this for Kaitangata, we have to act with a high sense of urgency.
"Therefore, we are asking if there are any individuals, businesses or organisations in the community who would consider contributing towards the cost."
The auction catalogue also features artwork depicting Nugget Point.