Hand-coloured engraving on paper
220 x 314mm
Original title: ‘La Favorite franchissant la Passe de Korora-Réka (Nouv. Zélande)’. Engraved by Sigismond Himely. Plate No. 67 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.
The title and appearance of this work suggest that there is a bar or difficult sea passage to negotiate at the entrance to the Bay of Islands, near Kororāreka (Russell). It is likely that the artist, aware of the fashion for nautical scenes featuring small ships battling heavy seas, used some license in enlivening the scene.
La Favorite, commanded by Cyrille-Pierre-Theodore Laplace, arrived in the Bay of Islands on 2 October 1831 and left again on 11th. On board was the artist François-Edmond Pâris, who was later to have a distinguished naval career, eventually achieving the rank of Admiral.
The purpose of La Favorite’s extensive journey was to investigate commercial prospects for French traders, particularly in Indo-China. The ship left Toulon on 30 December 1829 with a crew of 177 onboard, sailed around the Cape of Good Hope to India, to various South East Asian ports, the Dutch East Indies and then to Hobart. The crew was plagued with dysentery which Laplace attributed to a decrease in wine rations.
Although the short visit to the Bay of Islands was designed to rest the crew before the long voyage back, some survey work was carried out in the Kawakawa River area. Sailing via Valparaiso and Rio de Janiero La Favorite finally anchored in Toulon harbour on 21 April 1832.
Such were the sensitivities of the time that reports of the French survey work caused a flurry when reported in Sydney, causing the British Government to seek clarification from the French as to its intentions. On the 5th of October, while La Favorite was still in the Bay, thirteen local chiefs with missionary assistance, petitioned King William IV to protect their land from further encroaches of this kind.
Laplace had been surprised to find how clearly unwelcome by Māori he and his men were. He came to the conclusion that a rumour had been spread that he had come to take possession of the Bay of Islands and to avenge the death of Marion du Fresne.
Tirohanga Whānui: Views from the Past, Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, 15 April to 15 September 2017