Hand-coloured engraving on paper
220 x 318mm
Original title: ‘Plage de Korora-Rêka (Nouv’lle Zélande)’. Engraved by Sigismond Himely. Plate No. 65 from Louis Auguste de Sainson (ed.), Voyage autour du monde par les mers de l’Inde et de la Chine de la corvette de Sa Majesté la Favorite exécuté pendant les années 1830, 1831, 1832 (Paris: Arthus Bertrand, 1835).
The following text comes from the catalogue for the exhibition Tirohanga Whānui.
Although Lauvergne’s name appears on the lithograph and some coastal profiles were drawn by him as the Favorite sailed down from North Cape to the Bay of Islands, no original drawing for this image has ever been found. Lauvergne had already visited New Zealand on board the Astrolabe under d’Urville.
He recorded pleasant exchanges between Māori and Europeans; the group on the far left are almost affectionately engaged; French sailors are helping Māori pull in a net; animated conversations are taking place in the middle right.
Other contacts made between the crew of the Favorite and Māori included meetings with the chiefs Pōmare and Rewa and also with a ‘female cohort’, which invaded the ship one night, an event to which Captain Laplace turned a blind eye.
He did not, however, when he and his crew witnessed savage scenes involving cannibalism, having come upon a war party returning from the South. In a clear reference to current French philosophical notions of the ‘noble savage’ inspired by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Laplace wrote:
‘I would like to know what one of these philosophers who consider man in his wild state to be a model of innocence and goodness would have said if he had been present at this spectacle.’
Tirohanga Whānui: Views from the Past, Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, 15 April to 15 September 2017