BAXTER, George;

The Reverend J. Waterhouse Superintending the Landing of the Missionaries at Taranaki, New Zealand

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Oil print on paper
295 x 340mm

The following text comes from the catalogue for the exhibition Tirohanga Whānui.

In this image, Māori are clearly represented according to the prevailing stereotype of the ‘noble savage’, despite the fact that it was already being questioned in missionary literature. The mountain, obviously Taranaki, or Mount Egmont as it was known at the time to Pākehā, was wrongly described as Mount Edgecombe.

This is a somewhat fanciful image of an historical event. In 1841, Rev. John Waterhouse, General Superintendent of the Methodist South Sea Mission, arrived from Māngungu, Hokianga, on the beach at New Plymouth, Taranaki, with the missionary Rev. Charles Creed and Mrs Creed. Also with them was a Māori teacher, John Leigh Tutu, who had converted to Christianity a decade earlier.

Some years after, in January 1845, the Missionary Society’s Journal published a woodcut based on this print of Baxter’s with the intention of persuading intending missionaries of the enthusiastic reception they could expect from ‘the New Zealanders’. The Journal reports Eliza Creed’s arrival assisted by ‘seven native females in a transport of joy, anxiously carrying Mrs Creed with the greatest care to the shore’.

The propagandistic intention of this triumphal scene of disembarkation is clear. Subsequent events were less glorious. After the arrival of 148 settlers on the William Bryan the following year, Creed found himself in an invidious position. It had quickly became apparent to the new immigrants that lands they had been promised by the New Zealand Company in London had never in fact been purchased from Te Āti Awa. In 1843, having lost all credibility with both Māori and Pākehā, Rev. Creed was told to give up his mission house or have it burned to the ground. In the same year, he was accused of adultery with a Māori woman and banished to Ōtepoti.

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Exhibition History

Tirohanga Whānui: Views from the Past, Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi, 15 April to 15 September 2017

Te Huringa/Turning Points: Pākehā Colonisation and Māori Empowerment, Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua, Whanganui, 8 April to 16 July 2006 (toured)


Fletcher Trust Collection, purchased July 1998