Te Rapa, Lake Taupo, the scene of Te Heuheu's death 1846

Kinder's watercolour of Te Rapa is typical of his well-ordered painting style, resonating with his formal artistic education in England. Like many other paintings by this prolific artist, it is also a frozen account of one of many landscape scenes he beheld during his long life in Aotearoa. These scenes are predominantly rural and often devoid of human figures. This painting is no exception with hilly smoothed-off terrain dominating its composition. An incidental waka floats on a placid lake surface. However, it is the painting's title that indicates another facet of Kinder's life: his knowledge of and interest in Maori people.

This painting's title, referring to a highly esteemed tupuna of Ngati Tuwharetoa could also point to Kinder's own religiosity. With its posthumous (by some 15 years) reference to the death of the Tuwharetoa rangatira, Mananui, in Maori eyes this painting's title pays homage, whether the artist intended so or not, to the mana of a man, his people and the land that sustained them. Te Heuheu's mana, imprinted into the whenua, thus prevails beyond his death, thanks in part to this painting. Kinder provides a hint of the landslide that brought Te Heuheu's death so swiftly: the central hill appears paler and newer than the others. The painting does not limit its subject to that tragedy alone; in broader terms it points to the long history of the Ngati Tuwharetoa rohe in the Taupo region. JD

John Kinder 1819 - 1903

Te Rapa, Lake Taupo, the scene of Te Heuheu's death 1846

Ferrier Watson Collection
The Fletcher Trust on loan to Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki

Despite a very busy life as a teacher and cleric, Kinder was an indefatigable traveller. Having already journeyed extensively into the Bay of Plenty-Rotorua areas in 1857, he made a further trip in 1861 as far as Taupo and another in 1865-66. Sketches and photographs recording his movements at the time were later to form the basis for the careful watercolours he made around 1886, when he was in retirement.

Both of these works record his visit to the south western shores of Lake Taupo, where he was told of the tragic events that befell the Tuwharetoa kahui ariki on 7 May, 1846. Te Heuheu Tukino II, called Mananui, was among 54 people who died when a landslide swept down Kakaramea mountain after heavy rain, destroying the palisaded pa at Te Rapa. Mananui's son, Horonuku, was considered too inexperienced to succeed him so the chief's younger brother, Iwikau, succeeded until 1862, when Horonuku became Te Heuheu Tukino IV. His portrait, painted by Robert Atkinson, is included in this exhibition.

Te Heuheu's monument no longer exists at Pukawa. Iwikau had already built another pa with an ornamented wharenui called Tapeka, at Waihi, near Tokaanu, and it was this that now became, and still remains, the centre of Ngati Tuwharetoa activities. PS

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