Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 38, 1905
This text is also available in PDF
(583 KB) Opens in new window
– 120 –

Plates XIV-XVII.

Students will agree that all facts that can possibly be obtained regarding the Maoris should be placed on record, for it seems only too true that the day is quickly coming when this interesting race will be but a memory. Their history has been largely supplied by the late Mr. John White. Messrs. Taylor, Best, Colenso, Smith, and Tregear deal largely with their manner of life; Archdeacon Williams has rendered great

– 121 –

benefit to all students by his dictionaries; but, until lately, in point of art the Maori has been left severely alone. Mr. Hamilton's beautiful work, and Robley's “Moko,” are almost the only works we have in this respect; and Angas alone has attempted to give us pictorial representations of the old-time warriors. I consider that I have therefore been singularly fortunate in coming across some very old unpublished sketches made about the year 1843 by the late J. A. Gilfillan, photographs of some of which I have much pleasure in submitting to this Society. For the privilege of examining the Gilfillan sketches and copying some of the most interesting I am indebted to the kindness and courtesy of T. Allison, Esq., of Wanganui, a grandson of the late Mr. Gilfillan, who, I might here say, was a middle-nineteenth-century artist of a high order. The sketches display careful and beautiful work, and there is abundant evidence that great pains have been bestowed on many of the representations in order to secure accuracy. I may mention that several pictures from this artist's brush are in collections in England and Australia (one in the Melbourne Art Gallery —“Captain Cook proclaiming New South Wales a British Possession, Botany Bay, 1770,” which is reproduced in the “Picturesque Atlas of Australasia,” page 8, Part i), and others are occasionally met with in New Zealand, whilst he has also illustrated a few literary publications. I am persuaded, therefore, that the portraits I am reproducing from the sketch-books are to be relied upon for accuracy, and should supersede those of the same personages already in existence.

Gilfillan's name is not unknown in New Zealand history, owing to the unfortunate and terrible massacre which took place at his farm at Matarawa, near Wanganui, on the 18th April, 1847. Several accounts of this sad event have been written, but I consider that one of the best is given in Power's “Sketches in New Zealand.” Power was one of the rescue party which went out to Matarawa the morning after the massacre, and therefore, being almost an eye-witness, his account should be fairly correct.

There are in the original sketch-book already mentioned several names of great interest to all who study the history of New Zealand from the time of the incoming of the Britisher, and of these I am selecting the most prominent—namely, Te Rauparaha, Heke and his wife, and Maketu. Rauparaha and Heke are the two most illustrious of the Maori chiefs, or rangatiras, of the early days of New Zealand colonisation, and were perhaps the greatest warriors of their race. Heke, by reason of his determined opposition to British rule on any and every occasion, and Rauparaha, by his bloody ravages on other Maori

– 122 –

tribes, and particularly the Ngaltahu of Wai Pounamu (the South Island) and the Muaupoko in the North, to say nothing of the part he played in the Wairau massacre, will ever be prominently placed in New Zealand history; whilst Maketu is best known as the chief who stood out most resolutely against the sale of the Wanganui lands to the New Zealand Company in 1840.

I am sorry that much of the beauty and delicacy of line that characterize the original drawings are altogether lost in my photographs, owing to the work being done with lead-pencil, and the paper having become stained and faded through age. I have been forced, therefore, to take a series of positives and negatives and so build up contrasts, which process has, however, given me some trouble, owing to the grain of the paper becoming intensified as well as the lines required. All the beautiful half-tones have been lost by this process, which was necessary in order to get the lines black enough for reproduction; but the outline and general drawing have not been interfered with.

Two pictures of Te Rauparaha have, so far as I am aware, already been published, but neither, in my opinion, is as fine as the one under notice.

It may not be out of place here to give a description of Rauparaha's general appearance, culled from various contemporary authorities. The Rev. Richard Taylor, who saw him a prisoner on board the “Calliope,” says, in “Te Ika a Maui” (p. 54), “In stature he (Rauparaha) was not above 5 ft. 6 in., but his countenance was striking. He had a Roman or hooked nose, an eagle glance which read the thoughts of others without revealing his own, and a look which clearly marked his dauntless bearing.” He had apparently a very slight deformity, for in “Savage Scenes” (vol. i, p. 35) Angas mentions that he had six toes on his left foot. This, however, is apart from present interest. E. J. Wakefield, in his “Adventures in New Zealand” (vol. i, p. 113), about 1840, says Rauparaha “was at least sixty years old, hale and stout, hair but slightly grizzled, features aquiline and striking, overhanging lips and retreating forehead, eyebrows wrinkled back when he lifted his deep sunken eyelids, and penetrating eyes.” Thomson, in “Story of New Zealand” (vol. ii, p. 181), says, “In. stature he was small and wiry, forehead broad and receding.” Power, at page 51 of “Sketches in New Zealand,” thus describes Rauparaha's general expression of features: “Placid and thoughtful, but with the least excitement they assume a malignant and wolfish expression; his small snaky eyes gleam, and his thin lips curl down, showing yellow fangs.” The illustration we have in Power's book does

– 123 –

not correspond very well with the representation by Sutherland, which is the picture of Rauparaha most commonly met with, and which is copied from a drawing in Shortland's “Southern Districts of New Zealand.” Power's portrait is somewhat like Gilfillan's in outline, and the general shape of the moko marking is much the same; but the drawing has evidently been carelessly made, or the engraver has been at fault. It is possible that the author, W. Tyrone Power, D.A.C.C., may have taken his copy from this very sketch by Gilfillan, for in his preface to his book he acknowledges that some of the sketches used as illustrations were by Gilfillan, and he asks pardon for publishing them without permission specially given. On comparing the drawing with K.L. Sutherland's well-known picture, reproduced in several works, and pronounced by the late Hon. J. W. Barnicoat, M.L.C. (one of the party in the Wairau massacre), to be an excellent likeness, one finds many points in common; but, as Sutherland's is side face and Gilfillan's three-quarters, the latter naturally shows more of character, whilst any one will see at a glance that in the former the Maori type is not sustained—in fact, one would say that the face was entirely European were it not for the bunch of feathers suspended as an eardrop, and the tattooing. It is very noticeable that Sutherland was not able to grasp the subtle lines of Maori features, for in his drawing of Rangihaeata we have the European cast of countenance again strongly portrayed. The moko markings were evidently unfinished on the great chief, and all three pictures give the main outlines much the same; but in Sutherland's, also, the various markings have been carelessly made, and cannot be compared with Gilfillan's for accuracy. The chief seems to have been wearing the same ear-pendant when both portraits were taken, but it is noticeable that the arrangement of the hair is entirely different in both. In this respect Power's picture and Gilfillan's coincide, but Sutherland's is evidently faulty. Wakefield mentions Rauparaha having sat for his portrait to Major Heaphy, but that gentleman did not publish the result with the rest of his drawings, some of which were issued in a pictorial supplement to Wakefield's “Adventures in New Zealand.” Angas, the artist, does not appear to have had any success when he was at Kapiti about 1844. He states in “Savage Life and Scenes” that he failed in his attempt to paint Rangihaeata, so, I presume, thought it useless to try and persuade the superior chief to sit. In Thomson's “Story of New Zealand” it is stated that in 1844 Tamehana Rauparaha had a portrait of his illustrious father hanging in his house at Otaki, but so far as I can gather this picture has never been reproduced. It would be superfluous to give a detailed account of the life of this remarkable

– 124 –

man here. Such can be found in the Institute's Transactions, vol. v, in a very fine paper, “The Life and Times of Rauparaha,” by the late W. T. L. Travers, or in vol. vi of John White's “Ancient History of the Maori.”

Hone Heke, the great chief of the Ngapuhi Tribe is well known for having cut down the flagstaff at Kororareka, in July, 1844. His life occupies a prominent place in every New Zealand history, and up to the present time there have been three pictures published of him. I can find, however, no description of his personal appearance in any of the books at my command. The best-known picture of Heke is that taken with his wife from a sketch by Merritt, which appears in Thomson's “Story of New Zealand” (vol. ii, p. 96) and other works. The stern, commanding look of the warrior is well portrayed both in this and in Gilfillan's picture, but the former does not correspond altogether with the latter, the whole head being too square, with nose, forehead, and lips too much after the European type. The general moko lines are much the same in both, but the nose-markings which appear in Gilfillan's sketch are wanting in Merritt's, whilst the connecting lines between the markings round the lips and the cheekspirals are different. Of the two drawings, Gilfillan's is the finer, and, being larger, more details are obtained. Another picture of the Ngapuhi warrior is in a water-colour sketch by J. Merrett, in the collection of Dr. T. M. Hocken, of Dunedin, a reproduction of which is given at page 365 of Mr. A. Hamilton's “Maori Art.” This is a beautiful drawing of five Natives in full dress, and well delineates the different types and castes of Maori countenance. Here Heke is shown full face, but, although very fine, it does not depict the stern, commanding presence portrayed in Gilfillan's sketch, or in Merrett's other picture in Thomson's work. (Although there is a difference in the spelling of the name “Merrett,” the pictures are, I presume, by the same artist.) Yet another picture that we have of heke is attributed to Angas, and is to be found in “New-Zealanders Illustrated,” Heke and Patuone occupying the one plate. This picture is reproduced in “Annals of the Colonial Church” (p. 164), published in 1847, and in several later works, in some of which the word “photo” is placed before Angas's name. In “Savage Life and Scenes” Angas gives a short account of the life of Heke, but he makes no mention of having taken a sketch of the chief, and it is certain that he did not carry a camera around with him. I am inclined to think that the picture has been drawn from memory, or at any rate hurriedly for it bears the appearance of careless handling in regard to the tattoo-marking, whilst the portrait of Patuone, on

– 125 –

the other hand, seems to have had much care bestowed on it to obtain a true likeness. In this latter portrait there seems to be a design in the tattooing which is fairly regular, but there is no suggestion of that in the picture of Heke. Angas's picture is three-quarter face, while Gilfillan's and that in Thomson's work, already mentioned, are both side face, and accordingly it is not easy to make a comparison save by the tattoo-marks. In Angas's the nose-markings show a few irregular curves following no design at all. There is a somewhat indefinite line running from about under the inside of the right eye towards the point of the nose, which line is met about half-way between the eye and the nostril by a curved line running from the inside of the cheek-bone and parallel to the eye. There also appear to be some barely defined markings on the nostril, as well as several lines running away from the nostril and curving round the mouth to the chin, where there are a few marks evidently intended for the completion of the side-face scroll. The picture generally does not coincide with the other two in any particular, and consequently I am inclined to think it has been drawn from memory, if not from imagination. A photograph of Gilfillan's drawing was submitted by a friend of mine to Heke's grand-nephew, Mr. Hone Heke, M.H.R., of present-day fame, who recognised it at once and said that the nose, mouth, and chin tallied exactly with the description that had been handed down to them of the old warrior. He said that he could have recognised it at once from the description his old people had given him. On the whole, therefore, I am practically sure that the picture of Heke I am showing may be relied upon as correct in most essential particulars.

Heke's wife, the beautiful and intelligent daughter of Hongi, well known by his visit to England about 1820, is often mentioned in history, but so far we have had no picture of her, except the one (already mentioned) in Thomson's “Story of New Zealand.” Gilfillan's picture coincides with this in every way, as far as comparison is possible, but it is not easy to make this, as the first-mentioned is a side face and the latter nearly full face. The tattooing on the chin, arrangement of the hair, and general features appear to be much the same, but Gilfillan's sketch has the advantage of being larger. It is said that Heke's last days were embittered by the thought that he had no son to inherit the magic of his name, and in the hope of obtaining male issue he contracted an illicit alliance, which was highly resented by his beautiful and attached wife.

Maketu (not to be confounded with the northern Maketu) was the great fighting chief of Wanganui, and as his name occurs

– 126 –

in history it is interesting to be able to give his portrait. According to Rev. R. Taylor at page 558 of “Te Ika a Maui,” who calls him a great chief, Maketu was shot by a random bullet while engaged plundering during the early war, about May, 1847; but this account of his death may be somewhat incorrect, for it is now known by a few that he met his death from the bullet of an early settler, who, seeing him rocking himself in a chair in Churton's house, deliberately shot him from Churton's Creek. This information was probably suppressed before for various and obvious reasons. Maketu's fishing or village pa, Mawhai, which, according to Mr. Fred Parkes (a pioneer of the early days) was fortified, stood on the flat overlooking the site of the present residence of Mr. A. D. Willis, M.H.R., about a mile above the Wanganui town bridge. As before stated, Maketu stood out for a time against the sale of Wanganui to the New Zealand Land Company, when E. J. Wakefield was arranging for the purchase, and at the conference of chiefs at Purua Creek (now known as Durie Creek), where the sale eventually took place, he took a prominent part (Wakefield's “Adventures in New Zealand,” vol. i, p. 286). Wakefield is very careful to impress upon his readers that Maketu was not a principal chief; and his reason is very obvious, for it was only natural that he should try and belittle any opposition that he experienced. Wakefield also had a good deal to say about Turoa, whom he cites as being a chief of very great importance; and it is interesting to know that Wakefield's friend Pehi Turoa and Maketu were brothers, or, as some of the Natives tell me, cousins. On looking at a copy of the Treaty of Waitangi I see that Turoa signed his name, and the marks by Williams signify that he was a chief of great importance. I do not find Maketu's name; but, as Wakefield remarks, very few of the Wanganui chiefs did sign, and naturally those who were averse to British rule—as was Maketu—did not. The absence of Maketu's name from the signatures of the treaty is quite understandable. His chief pa and land were evidently at Waipakura, some distance up the Wanganui River, from which place he fired at the Putiki canoes bearing the captured prisoners —the authors of the Gilfillan outrage. Strange that Maketu should have his likeness perpetuated by the very man, the outrage on whose family he evidently sympathized with, even if he was not one of the instigators.

Since the above was written, an interesting piece of confirmatory information has come into my possession. I have in the foregoing referred to the evident care with which Gilfillan has depicted the tattooing, and I am now told by Mr. Allison that his aunt, one of the daughters of Gilfillan who escaped

– 127 –

from the massacre, has informed him that her father in his Maoris sketches was always very careful to get the tattooing absolutely correct, as the Natives themselves insisted on every line being drawn and put in its correct place. This explains a good deal, and gives Gilfillan's representations an added value as true and faithful depictions of historic personages.