History for Lunch! Wednesdays, 12.30-1.30pm during August at the Central Library

Wellington Harbour by Barraud tiny

On Wednesdays from 12.30-1.30pm during the month of August, the Central Library will be hosting a series of history talks covering the social, urban and Māori history of Wellington. Have a read of the programme below, and come along!

Wednesday 7 August: The Flight to South Karori: How Katherine Mansfield’s family coped with life and death in the time of cholera (1890-93) by Redmer Yska Notable Wellington historian Redmer Yska uncovers the extraordinary story of Wellington’s cholera epidemic and the associated flight of the Beauchamp family out of the city, along with many other members of Wellington’s middle-class. The story also covers the political battles that waged between influential forces as the city struggled to gain the means to rectify the situation.

Wednesday 14 August: Te Upoko o te Ika, 1840s: A Struggle over Power, Mana and Resources by Hēni Collins Presented by the researcher, writer and journalist, Hēni Collins, this illustrated talk will cover a period of history in Te Whanganui a Tara/ Wellington Harbour and the Kapiti Coast during the mid-19th century. It was a time when the mana of Te Rauparaha, Te Rangihaeata and allied tribes was undercut by English settler ambition and then eventually backed up by the heavy hand of the British military. This represented a huge shift in access to land, economic resources, power and cultural dominance in the region. Ka mate ka ora! The siprit of Te Rauparaha / Hēni CollinsHēni Collins is the author of Ka mate ka ora! : the spirit of Te Rauparaha (Steele Roberts, 2010). The story of Te Rauparaha and his times continues to intrigue, provoke and inspire Maori and Pakeha alike. In this book Collins describes Te Rauparaha’s life from the time his birth was foretold, through inter-tribal conflict, migration, settlement in the south (Kapiti Island), and into the period of colonization. Signed copies of the book will be available for sale at the conclusion of this talk

Wednesday 21 August: Radical Wellington: Philip Josephs, the Freedom Group & the Great Strike of 1913 by Jared Davidson Jared Davidson, archivist and author of Sewing Freedom, will be talking about the colourful radicals of the early labour movement in Wellington – anarchists and the Industrial Workers of the World. As well as organising one of New Zealand’s first anarchist collectives, Josephs and members of the IWW were active in Wellington’s working-class counter culture and the Great Strike of 1913. This talks aims to highlight the role of literature, meetings and international influences in these events. Signed copies of Jared Davidson’s book Sewing Freedom will be available for sale for $15 at the conclusion of the talk (sorry; no eftpos) Whatu kākahu = Māori cloaks / edited by Awhina Tamarapa.

Wednesday 28 August: He tohu aroha – the protective role of Māori cloaks by Awhina Tamarapa Awhina Tamarapa edited and contributed to the book Whatu Kakahu which arose from the outstanding exhibition at Te Papa,  Kahu ora : living cloaks (June-Otober, 2012). Of special interest to Wellingtonians will be the history of the cloak of Ruhia Porutu, deposited into the care of Te Papa by the whānau of Henry Pitt.  This is the beautiful kākahu that saved the life of Thomas Wilmore McKenzie in 1840 who had arrived in Wellington as a teenager on board one of the first settler ships. McKenzie went on to become a prominent Wellington citizen but never forgot the debt he owed to Ruhia Porutu and the two families maintained a life-long friendship. Awhina Tamarapa (Ngati Kahungunu, Ngati Ruanui, Ngati Pikiao) is a curator of Maori artifacts at Te Papa.  She holds a Bachelor of Maori Laws and Philosophy from Te Wananga o Raukawa, Otaki, and a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University, Wellington, where she majored in Anthropology.

History For Lunch

Paula Morris, Paratene Te Manu and Lindauer

Rangatira mā

Artist Gottfried Lindauer, photographed probably in the 1890s
Artist Gottfried Lindauer, photographed probably in the 1890s. Alexander Turnbull Library, Reference: PUBL-0092-001

Today I’ve finally laid eyes on a copy of Paula Morris’ Rangatira, and this has set me pondering the connections of Lindauer and the mana whenua of Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt. But firstly let’s acknowledge the book Rangatira – winner of the New Zealand Post Fiction Category Award, 2012.

Syndetics book coverRangatira : a novel / by Paula Morris.
In this book Paula Morris recreates the story of her tupuna, Paratene Te Manu , one of the rōpū who sailed to England to visit the Queen, under the umbrella of William Jenkins of Nelson – a journey recorded in the book, Hariru Wikitoria! : an illustrated history of the Maori tour of England, 1863, by Brian Mackrell.

There is much information on Gottfried Lindauer, and an interesting place to begin is Te Ara– where he is described as a Czech, named Bohumir, born 5 January 1839 at Pilsen, Bohemia.

After being called up for service, 1873, he set sail for New Zealand, arriving in Wellington aboard the Reichstag, 6 August 1874, before moving on to Nelson where, says the DNZ biography, he painted his first Māori portraits.

But there is a handful of Lindauer’s portraits of women from Waiwhetu, not included in the substantial New Zealand catalogues (both printed and online). And I am wondering whether these portraits were painted before Lindauer moved on to Nelson. One such portrait, well-known to the Porutu and Puketapu whānau, is of Ruhia Porutu, of local fame.

Around 1840 T. W. McKenzie, a teenager, was on the point of breaking tapu by entering Ruhia’s father-in-law’s partially constructed house at Pipitea. Ruhia threw her kaitaka over the boy, thus saving his life.

An image of the cloak, (which was itself included in the recent exhibition of beautiful kakahu – Kahu ora – at Te Papa), is preserved in a portrait by Lindauer and mentioned in several publications, including “The book of New Zealand women”, as well as our Wellington City Libraries’ book series: Ngā Tūpuna o te Whanganui-a-Tara.

Many years ago, at whānau gatherings down Coast Road, Wainuiomata, on Sunday evening get-togethers and sing-alongs, I would gaze up at three portraits on the wall above the mantlepiece. All were unsigned works.

Two of the women were portrayed in very clear lines – Keti Kautarewa, and her daughter, Raita Te One. When I asked who had painted these portraits, my mother merely said “Some foreign chap came off a boat, at Wellington Harbour. The people of Waiwhetu were good to him, so he painted their portraits”.

These two portraits, now attributed to Lindauer were hung in Te Papa, during the Te Ati Awa exhibition, February 1998-August 1999 along with his portrait of Ruhia Porutu, and another of Wi Tako Ngatata.

Te Ātiawa iwi exhibition at Te Papa, used with permission
Te Ātiawa iwi exhibition at Te Papa, used with permission

As stated in his biography, Lindauer produced many paintings of scenes and people. I wonder how many other uncatalogued but valued portraits of whānau exist throughout the motu.

Lindauer, settled in Woodville, with his wife, in December 1889, on their return from Britain, and he died there in June,1926.