In 1824 James Spencer was the first white settler and also the founder of Bluff Settlement in Southland.He married a Maori woman, Meri Kauri, of whom Rata Koning is a direct descendant.
It is with this background, her father a carver in the Maori tradition, and her Mother. a talented watercolour artist, that Rata took up a career as a graphic artist.
A two year stay in Holland in 1989 - 1991, with her Dutch husband and son, started Rata painting and selling studies of Dutch people in traditional costumes.
Since returning to New Zealand, Rata now paints New Zealand flora and fauna and enjoys using the influence of her Maori background, traditional Maori myths, legends and Moko patterns to inspire her art.