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Comparatively few New Zealanders have any idea of the very fine collection of Maori portraits which is now to be seen in Auckland in what is known as the Lindauer Gallery.

This collection (the property of Mr. H. E. Partridge) is the work of considerably over twenty years, and the amassing- of it has been a labour of love and an all-engrossing aim on the part of its possessor, who has now thrown the gallery open free of charge for the benefit of those who may wish to inspect this really priceless roomful of portraits of Old Maoridom.

The Lindauer Gallery (which has been in the owner's private house until Mr. Partridge recently decided to let the general public share with him the pleasure of inspecting and admiring these paintings), consists of forty portraits in oils, representing some of the most celebrated warriorchiefs and tribal leaders of the native tribes of New Zealand. With few exceptions the portraits are those of Maoris now deceased, dignified rang-i----tiras and fierce warriors who have now passed away to the Keinga. It will be utterly impossible to ever again make such a collection of portraits from life as these; for the subjects are no more. Another very few years will see the last of the tattooed old men of this splendid stock, and Lindauer came just in time to commit their features to canvas for the wonder and admiration of New Zealanders and our visitors from abroad. The Lindauer gallery may truly be looked on as a national collection, though it has been left to a private citizen to do that which should really have been the care of the State —the collection and preservation for this and future generations of a series of lifelike paintings of the great ones of the native race now no more.

The dominant feature of the pictures is their accuracy and painstaking1 fidelity to details. Lindauer apparently was willing, if necessary, to sacrifice a very great deal of artistic effect in order to secure scrupulous precision of the minutiae of tattoomarks, costumes, weapons, etc., and in this lies much of the immense value of his work. However, apart from the meticulous correctness of the portraits, the paintings are of great artistic merit; the treatment is excellent, and. the variety in the poses, attitudes and expressions of the subjects quite removes any feeling of "sameness" on looking round the walls of the gallery.

The picture which naturally first attracts the eye is the very large painting1 entitled "The Tohunga Under Tapu," which is intensely interesting, as depicting a remarkable phase of olden Maori customs and beliefs. The canvas represents a scene in an old-time native pa. An old tohunga (priest, medicine-man, etc.), is kneeling on his mats in front of his "whare" in a remote corner of the settlement. He is very "tapu" for the time being, probably thtough having been engaged in handling a chief's dead body, and being "quarantined" for the time being he is prohibited by the strong though unwritten law of the race from touching his food with his own sacred hands. So a little girl, quite naked so that her garments may not be infected with the dangerous "tapu." has brought the old man his food, a basket of potatoes, and is half-fearfully feeding him with the boiled "taewa" stuck on the end of a long fern-stalk. The old fellow, whose great muscles and still athletic form show that he has been a powerful man in his time, is eagerly leaning forward with his bluetattooed lips parted to receive the welcome "kai," and his hands held resolutely behind his back so that he should not touch the food. The whole picture is a remarkable one, and to see it alone is very well worth a visit to the gallery.

The portraits are every one a splendid study of the Maori. Here are to be seen the late King Tawhiao, in his kiwi-feather mat; the benevolent old Northern chief Tamati Walca Nene, the friend of the early settlers; his fine old centenarian brother Patuone, who died at the North Shore in 1872; the kingly-looking Ngatimaniapoto chief Wahanui; the celebrated fight-ing-chief Eewi Manga Maniapoto, in his dog-skin cloak; and many another. The portrait of Wahanui is an especially fine one; and Maori visitors have stood before it silently weepingl over the "shadow-face" of the old chieftain, and wondering at the skill of the white "tohunga," which reproduced so faithfully the regal air, the imperious mouth, silvery hair, the precious greenstone heitiki suspended from the massive neck, and the splendid mere which the chief holds in his hand. Tamati Ngapora's picture is another fine portrait. When old Tamati's nephew, the present Waikato King, Mahuta, visited the gallery last week, he stood in front of the picture for some time, and with his relatives warmly praised the painting. "Aue!" they said, "it is our elder relative before us again, face to face."

A strildng portrait is that of the savage-looking old warrior-chief Taraia, of the Ohinemuri district, who was one of the wildest cannibal soldiers known in New Zealand history. Taraia is shown in fighting costume, carrying his fatal bone-handle tomahawk, and every line and curve of his "dour" face betokens the truculent savage. A comrade-in-arms of his, old Tukukino, is seen near by on the wall, wearing in his ear a characteristic Maori decoration, the dried skin of the huia bird suspended from the ear.

A portrait of a very different type hangs in close proximity—the kindly tattooed face of the well-known old chief Paui Tuhaere (of Orakei),who died a few years ago. One of the finest pictures in the gallery is that ox the East Coast chief Wl Kingi, a white-bearded, closely tattooed old man, who is shown squatting on the ground with liir-i venerable head bent on one side in a contemplative attitude over his stone mere, while across his knees lies a richly-plumed taiaha, the emblem of a chief. The pose is exceedingly true to life, and is characterically native.

Here there are a number of portraits of famous East Coast chiefs — Major Ropata Wahawaha, M.L. C, in. his European uniform, and wearing the sword of honour sent him by the Queen; Renata Kawepo, Ihaka Whanga, Te Hapukm, and others, wrapped in their rarest Maori mats. The large picture of the late Major Eopata is an especially noticeable one and is considered to be an ex-

ceedingly fine portrait of the stern old soldier. A number of the late Major's relatives and comrades visited th\ Gallery recently, amongst them Tuta Nihoniho, who served with Itopata all through the Urewera campaigns after Te Kooti and Kereopa, and who was greatly affected at seeing this life-size picture of his old brother-in-arms. Luke Aratapu (still living) and the late Henare Potae, two of Kopata's brave lieutenants in the friendly forces, are also amongst the portraits. Old Te liapuku's portrait is a somewhat remarkable one. His aged face is surrounded by a thick fringe of white hair, in the style popularly, but irreverently, known as a "monkey shave," and he is draped in a beautifully bordered mat.

Another somewhat noted native fig-uring on the walls is the ancient prophet and reputed wizard Tuhoto, who was dug alive out of the ruins of Wairoa after the Taravvera eruptions in ISSG, and who died at Rotorua soon afterwards. Another man of olden days is Paratene te Manu, whose painting is included in the Gallery. Paratene was one of Hongi's cannibal followers in the fierce wars of 1820-1830, and he lived on the Little Barrier Island up to the time that place was taken over by the Government as a bird reserve. An aristocratic face is that of the handsome old chief Te Hira te Kawau, who lived at Orakei, on the shores of Auckland Harbour, and who is mentioned by Dr. j. L. Campbell in his book "Poenamo."

Amongst the portraits of rangatiras still living is that of Hori Ngakapa, one of the few tattooed Maoris of the old school whose faces are yet to be occasionally seen in the streets of Auckland. Old Hori is a man with a history. He was one of the Hauraki braves who in their war canoes made a futile invasion of Auckland in ISSI, and later on in 1863 he fought in the Waikato war. One of his exploits was the ambushing of a party of British soldiers (a company of the 18th Regimen!) at Martin's clearing, on the road between Drury and Pokeno. Hori was one of the chiefs decorated with medals by the Duke of Cornwall and York at Rotorua the other day.

Numbers of other portraits of noted natives, including some beautiful pictures of Maori women of rank, are included in the Gallery, but space prevents a full description. The native people who frequently make their way to the igallery leave most touching and poetical remarks in Maori in the visitors' book. One writes: "Skilled is the hand, great is the thought of the man who brings before us in living shape the shadows of our dead friends. AlasJ They were the great totara trees of Aotearoa in their generation." Another (Te Heuheu, the head chief of Taupo) says: "Here I have gazed upon the faces of the great chiefs of former days, brought before me as if they were living still. They stand here towering- like the kauri in the forest, for the wonder and delight of all generations, to gaze upon the faces of the ancients. Rejoiced am I also of the thoughtfulness of our pakeha friend, who has collected and preserved these works."

Others greet in affectionate phrase the pictures of the dead, as if they •were actual persons instead of merely paintings, so powerfully impressed are they by the reality of the portraits. "Oh friends, oh friends! Greetings to you, greetings—my message of love and grief to you! Remain there, remain there- in that place of yours, the last resting-place of us all." They speak in expressive Maori of the chiefs whose portraits they see here as "the company of the dead," whose bodies and spirits have "utterly gone, vanished into the night." But. their faces being here, they, though dead, yet speak.

In the gallery are also to be seen some very fine casts of modern Maori types by Mr Allan Hutehinson, the English sculptor, who is at present in Auckland.

We are requested to state thai those wishing to view the gallery can do so free of any charee by making application. The p-allerv is in Oueen-street. opposite the Eank of New South Wales.

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Bibliographic details

MAORI PORTRAIT GALLERY., Auckland Star, Volume XXXII, Issue 198, 2 September 1901

Word Count

MAORI PORTRAIT GALLERY. Auckland Star, Volume XXXII, Issue 198, 2 September 1901

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