A PORTRAIT GALLERY OF
FAMOUS MEN AND WOMEN
In the Auckland City Art Gallery there is a famous collection of portraits of great Maori men and women of the past. They were painted by Gottfried Lindauer. who was born in Bohemia (Czechoslovakia) in 1839. and came to live in New Zealand in 1873.
He was at once attracted to the Maori people, and with his directness and simplicity of temperament and natural gaiety, he soon won many friends amongst them.
After he had been in New Zealand for a few months he visited Auckland, where he became friendly with a young man named Henry Partridge, also a newcomer to the country.
Partridge had often visited remote Maori villages with his friend James MacKay, the almost legendary figure who was then Civil Commissioner for the Coromandel district. There he learnt to know and greatly admire the old-time rangatira and their way of life.
When Lindauer showed Partridge his sketches of Maori people. Partridge conceived the idea of a collection of paintings which would preserve the memory of the old Maori way of life, and of the famous Maori figures of that time.
Thus a friendship and partnership was born which was to last for 50 years. At that time Partridge was only 26, was married with a family, and had been in business for only a year. Nevertheless he commissioned Lindauer to paint the first of the portraits, and added to his collection whenever funds permitted.
In time Henry Partridge's collection of Lindauer's paintings grew to include 70 pictures. Some were scenes of Maori life, such as that reproduced on this page, but most were portraits. The great majority of them were painted from life, and they were done with meticulous accuracy. As an artist Lin-
dauer had his limitations, but his portraits are most faithful likenesses. The garments, moko, weapons and ornaments of his subjects are also recorded with great accuracy of detail.
The paintings commissioned were mostly of famous men and women of the time, and it is this which makes the collection so very valuable today. In some cases the Lindauer portrait is the only surviving record of their appearance, and most of them are by far the best likenesses available. The fact that all these people are presented as seen through the eyes of the one artist gives the collection an added impact. Row upon row, in these paintings they still live today.
In 1915 Henry Partridge gave his collection to the people of Auckland, his only condition being that they should contribute £10.000 to a fund for Belgian war refugees.
In a book shortly to be published by A. H. & A. W. Reed Ltd., a selection of 48 of the paintings are published in colour. Royalties from the sale of the book are to be donated to the Maori Education Foundation by Mrs E. L. Clayton, daughter of Mr Partridge and sponsor of the publication.
One of the best known of Lindauer's portraits is his painting, shown above, right, of King Tawhiao.
Tawhiao Matutaera Potalau Te Whero-whero, the second king of the Waikato tribes, was a chief of a very high lineage, being a descendant of Hoturoa and also connected by another line of descent with Tamatekapua. He was declared king at Ngaruawahia in 1860, on the death of his father Te Wherowhero, and led his people with dignity and integrity through the difficult years of the Waikato war and its aftermath.
The high chief Te Hapuku (see portrait, right) was one of the leading rangatiras of the Hawkes Bay district, a spirited and autocratic warrior chief of the old school.
In about 1853. Hapuku and his people were driven northwards away from the Heretaunga district, in the course of intertribal warfare amongst the hapus of Ngati-Kahungunu. Twenty-five years later, when Hapuku lay dying in his village on the shores of Te Aute Lake, he was visited by Sir George Grey, who was responsible for a final reconciliation between him and Karaitiana, the leader of his enemies.
Major Ropata Wahawaha, the warrior chief of Ngati Porou on the East Coast, was a fearless, often ruthless soldier who fought on the Government's side against Te Kooti.
In his boyhood he was taken prisoner in a raid by the Rongo Whakaata tribe of Poverty Bay. Later he took a grim revenge on his enemies.
From 1864 until 1871 he pursued Te Kooti, spending much of this time in the wild forests of the Ureweras, where he and his men withstood terrible hardships. Innumerable stories were told of his fierceness and bravery in battle, his cleverness as a strategist and his great powers of leadership.
Yet despite his single-mindedness as a fighter, throughout the Urewera campaign he bombarded the Government with letters imploring. and indeed demanding, generous treatment for his enemies, the defeated Tuhoe.
After the war Major Ropata Wahawaha became a member of the Legislative Council, highly respected by the Pakeha and venerated by his own people.
This Maori tribute to Patuone and his brother Tamati Waka Nene is from C. O. Davis' The Life and Times of Patuone' (1876).
‘Patuone and Waka Nene were great in counsel and great in fight… they gave good advice to their tribes and to the Ngapuhi nation generally. Patuone was present at many Maori fights north and south, east and west. Often he acted as a peacemaker, because it was his custom to prevent bloodshed. In the early times, Patuone and Waka befriended Europeans who visited New Zealand in ships. … All the world knows that these men were true in action and speech. In their death, the Maoris say that great trees, giving shade to many, have been uprooted; but the Maori proverb is. ‘When one great chief dies, another great chief lives’, and a second proverb is ‘The sun goes down when its course is run’… Patuone reached the end of his journey, and lay down to die. Waka Nene did the same. They have gone to be greeted by generations that went before… Their good sayings and good deeds will be long remembered.
Proud and imperious Rangi-Topeara was of the highest birth, a descendant of Hoturoa of the Tainui canoe. She was a niece of Te Rauparaha and a sister of Te Rangihaeata, Raupzraha's great fighting ally. Born at Kawhia. she came south when her people Ngati Toa were led by Te Rauparaha to a new home at Kapiti Island and on the shores of Cook Strait. Later she lived at Otaki, where she died in about 1873.
Topeora was a famous poet, and many of her songs are still known and sung to-day, Some are love songs composed for her several husbands and lovers; others are kaioraora, cursing songs directed at her enemies. Her high birth and strength of character made her an important person in her tribe, and she was one of those who signed the Treaty of Waitangi.
When she and her husband were baptised in the 1840s she chose as their new names Queen Victoria (Kuini Wikitoria) and Albert (Arapeta). No other names would do.
Tuhoto Ariki came of a long line of high priests of Te Arawa, and from his youth he was set apart as one who was learning the mysteries of the priesthood. He lived on Mokoia Island in Lake Rotorua in the early years of the last century, and was greatly feared as a tangata makutu, a wizard who could destroy men by his magic.
At the time of the terrible Tarawera eruption of 1886, old Tuhoto was living at Wairoa on Lake Tarawera with his kinsmen of the Tuhourangi tribe. The people of the village believed that it was Tuhoto who had caused the disaster, by calling upon the god of volcanoes to arise and destroy the tribe.
In the eruption Tuhoto was buried alive in his little house beneath a sea of mud and ashes. He was dug out four days later by a Pakcha rescue team, and to everyone's astonishment was found to be still alive. He died a few days later, aged about 100.