TAONGA/ALL THAT IS VALUED

Pahe-a-Range, the New Zealand Chief - Barnet Burns 1835

It is both interesting and disturbing that unashamed Europeanisation has found its way into this lithographic representation of taonga. Classical Greek and Roman costume is incongruously set amongst tiki, taiaha, and what appears to be either a kahu-huruhuru (feather cloak) or kahukuri (dogskin cloak). Great artistic liberties have also been taken with the hair style, though much detailed attention has been paid to the facial moko. Such accuracy is counterbalanced by false footwear that seems much more leathery than the harakeke (flax) varieties that were more likely to have been worn by Maori people in early colonial days. Nevertheless, it is important for us not to deny the mana of a 'New Zealand Chief' and all taonga associated with him, and, by doing so, we may yet turn the tide against Eurocentric misrepresentation. JD

After J. Sutcliffe

Pahe-a-Range, the New Zealand Chief - Barnet Burns 1835
Lithograph

The Fletcher Trust Collection

When Rev. John Kinder was in his late teens, some time between 1834 and 1838, he and his sisters attended a talk given in the Mechanics Institute, Southhampton, England by one Barnet Burns. In his unpublished Account of my Life (1900), Kinder described him as a fully tattooed runaway sailor who had lived for many years among Maori. Although Burns was said to be illiterate, his talk greatly amused his audience, not least because he carried around with him in a bag the dried head of a Maori enemy whom he claimed to have killed in battle.

In this literally fantastic and absurd lithograph, the subject's Maori trappings do not detract from a stance and attitude strongly reminiscent of the French King Louis XIV's in Hyacinthe Rigaud's famous portrait. PS

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