BAXTER, George;

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

Enlarge Image

1844
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 Rousseau’s 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 the 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 Ati 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 Dunedin.

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)

The Fletcher Trust Collection is one of the largest curated private collections of Aotearoa New Zealand art. The Trust makes works available to the public online as well as via exhibitions initiated by public art institutions and by the Trust itself.

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