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Mauritius & South Africa 1825-8 | South America 1851/8 | New Zealand 1840

Captain Robert Marsh Westmacott

New Zealand Drawing Book c.1840


One of the Hill Chiefs, N.Z. National Library of Australia, Westmacott's Drawing Book, NK762/41. Possibly an original work by R.A. Oliver.

In 1929 the Museum Book Store, London, offered for sale a collection of drawings attributed to Englishman Robert Marsh Westmacott (1801-1870). Westmacott's Drawing Book c.1840 contained sixteen topographic views and figure studies of New Zealand from the early colonial period. The compilation of such an album, comprising prints, watercolours, pencil sketches and text, was a popular pastime amongst men and women of taste and travellers in search of the picturesque during the eighteenth century and first half of the nineteenth century. Such albums evolved as a result of purchases or represented the work of the compiler, in both instances chronicling specific interests or travels. Within the annals of New Zealand history two such albums are well known - Mrs Hobson's Album, presented to the widowed Eliza Hobson, wife of the late Governor Sir Charles Hobson, on her departure from the Colony in 1843, and containing a collection of local drawings and texts; and Governor George Grey's New Zealand Pictorial Sketchbook 1845-54. Grey's collection of drawings and prints was presented to the British Museum in 1854, whilst Eliza Hobson's album, donated by the family to the Turnbull Library in 1940, has been published.(1) A third, little known example, is Westmacott's Drawing Book. At present it survives, in part, within the Rex Nan Kivell Collection of the National Library of Australia, Canberra. The circumstances surrounding the album's compilation and subsequent dispersal following sale at auction are discussed.

The Hobson, Grey and Westmacott albums are both a rich treasure trove and problematic for art historians. Many of the artworks contained therein bear no signature, whilst others lack annotations which can aid in identifying precise subject, locality and date of execution. Are the works original or copies? Who is the artist responsible? How were they acquired? Such works have, in the past, been attributed to the compiler of the album, as is the case with both George Grey and R.M. Westmacott, both of whom were amateur artists. However extensive research in recent years on the early colonial period of New Zealand has given us a clearer picture as to the origin of many of the drawings and watercolours contained therein. The colonial era is littered with works of unknown or doubtful attribution. It was a time in which paintings and drawings were sold, exchanged, gifted or even stolen, with a subsequent loss of provenance information along the way. It is only through ongoing research and detailed study of the movement of individual artists that works can be more precisely identified. Such an analysis of Westmacott's Drawing Book will help us clarify problems of attribution, place the collection within its appropriate historical context, and perhaps reveal the circumstances leading to the compilation of this a pictorial oddity.

The Last Colony – New Zealand

The Maori arrived in Aotearoa ( New Zealand ) between 800 and 1200AD. Pakeha (Europeans) first appeared with the expeditions of Abel Tasman (1642) and Captain James Cook (1769). During the first decades of the nineteenth century small whaling and trading settlements were established on the coastline, prior to Samuel Marsden's establishment of a mission at the Bay of Islands in 1814. Thereafter missionary enclaves and whaling stations continued to appear, spurred on by the New Zealand Company's unofficial ventures in 1825 & 1837, and the sailing of their survey vessel the Tory in 1839.(2) It was commonly held that the New Zealand Company influenced the annexation of the islands by the British, however there is no doubt that the motivation of the New Zealand Company was primarily mercenary, reinforced by a real fear of the British that the French would claim the islands before them. In 1845 E.J. Wakefield, nephew of Edward Gibbon Wakefield and a member of the crew of the Tory, went to pains to point out that the threat of New Zealand becoming a French penal colony was a motivating factor in the Company's endeavours, along with a desire to protect the Maori people from the influences of French colonisation, lawless and immoral whalers, and escaped convicts. Wakefield also indicated that the annexation would bring to New Zealand the benefits of the British system of justice and land tenure. The veracity of such an assertion has been in dispute ever since.

The French exhibited an increasing interest in the Pacific, and in New Zealand in particular, during the early 1800s, following on explorations there during the latter part of the eighteenth century. Numerous scientific expeditions had visited the islands and prepared detailed charts of the coastline, building upon the pioneering work of Cook.(3) French plans for a more permanent establishment came to fruition during 1840 at Akaroa, though this experiment in colonisation ultimately proved unsuccessful.(4) Colonisation brought to the island large numbers of European immigrants, trade with the outside world, money, guns and industry. It also had a decimating effect on the indigenous Maori population – said to number some 60,000 at the time of the Pakeha occupation. Dispossession of the Maori from their lands was a consequence. Colonisation also brought with it artists, both amateur and professional, to record aspects of the landscape, of the indigenous inhabitants, and of the subsequent development of the colony, as in the erection of dwellings and townships, the excavation of harbours and associated public works including roads, the clearing of the bush and harvesting of forest timbers such as kauri logs, and the creation of vast expanses of cultivated acreages. The resultant pictorial record, later supplemented by photography, clearly revealed the extent of the British occupation and its effect upon the Maori.

Numerous artists passed through New Zealand during the colonial period. They came alone, in company with scientific and exploratory expeditions, or as part of whaling and missionary ventures.(5) Artists connected with the various European voyages of discovery included the English Sidney Parkinson, Herman Sporing, William Hodges and John Webber with Captain Cook (1769, 1773, 1777), the French Francois Peron (1793), Lejeune & Chazal (1824), Louis Auguste de Sainson (1827), Louis de Breton (1840) and Charles Meryon (1842), and the Austrian Josef Selleny (1858), to name but a few. Those itinerant travel artists who landed in New Zealand prior to colonisation included Augustus Earle (1827-8) and Conrad Martens (1835), both at the time wandering the globe in search of picturesque landscapes and peoples.(6) Earle's extended stay resulted in perhaps the most substantial pre-colonial collection of artworks of New Zealand and its people, though he was confined to the Bay of Islands region in the North Island.(7)

The pace of colonisation quickened, and the number of visiting artists increased, following the arrival of the Tory at Queen Charlotte's Sound in August 1839. Shortly thereafter saw the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in February 1840 and the landing of French immigrants at Akaroa in August of that year. A notable arrival around this time was artist-surveyor Charles Heaphy (1820-81).(8) The number of artists undertaking brief stays in connection with trade or military expeditions rose throughout the remainder of the century, giving rise to a rich pictorial record. The emphasis throughout was on the topographic and picturesque view, owing much to the British landscape tradition which had flowered during the period 1770-1830 as a result of the work of artists such as J.M.W. Turner and John Constable. Contemporaneous with this was the widespread interest in tourism via the Grand Tour and an increasing popularity and sophistication of use of the new watercolour medium, always more portable than oil and therefore popular with travel artists. In combination with the writings of pastoral poets such as William Wordsworth and James Thomson, and picturesque travel writer the Reverend William Gilpin, by the 1830s the desire for travel in quest of knowledge, exotica, and the picturesque by the British middle and upper classes was widespread, reinforcing continuing support for expansion of the Empire.

Apart from the English, the major pictorial chroniclers of New Zealand during this period were the numerous French artists who visited the islands after 1767. Aside from Augustus Earle, the French were responsible for the most significant collection of paintings and drawings of Aotearoa during the period 1800-40. Their art school training and European artistic traditions led them to develop a greater interest in figurative and ethnographic images, as against the landscape favoured by the British. A good example Louis Auguste de Sainson who arrived aboard the Astrolabe in 1827. He, and the artists who subsequently transferred his work to print via the lithographic process, combined elements of the picturesque landscape with the figurative to produce some of the most attractive images of New Zealand and Maori culture from this era. At the other end of the spectrum is the little known amateur artist, responsible for often crude but historically significant works. A good example is Robert Marsh Westmacott.

Rex Nan Kivell and Westmacott's Drawing Book

In 1929 London-based art dealer and expatriate New Zealander Rex Nan Kivell purchased at auction from the Museum Book Store a number of sketchbooks, lithographs, and drawings by Captain Robert Marsh Westmacott (1801-70). Lot 901, listed as Westmacott's Drawing Book c.1840, was given as “from the Westmacott Collection lately in the possession of the family of the artist.” It contained 42 drawings in watercolour, wash and pencil, sixteen of which featured New Zealand subjects (Table 1). The majority related to the North Island and comprised landscapes, ethnographic works and figure studies of famous Maori such as Honi Heke. None were signed or dated, though all bore some form of descriptive inscription upon the work or its mounting, usually in Westmacott's distinctive hand. Sizes were smallish, on average 10 x 8 inches (20 x 25 cm), reflecting their sketchbook origins.

Table 1: New Zealand Works from Westmacott's Drawing Book

Bow of a war canoe, New Zealand. National Library of Australia, Westmacott's Drawing Book, NK762/38. Possibly a view in the Huraki Gulf region near Auckland based on an original work by Cuthbert Clarke.

1. Tory Channel, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand [with] Native Fort

2. Mungaroa Bridge, Upper Hutt

3. Pakuratahi River nr. Wairarapa, N.Z. Hutt River

4. On the Mokau River, West Coast, N.Z.

5. On the ` Waikato ', New Zealand

6. Middle entrance to Auckland Harbour, New Zealand

7. Auckland Harbour from the Bastion Rock

8. Bow of a war canoe, New Zealand

9. Stern of a war canoe. The carved work is by means of flints [? Huraki Gulf ]

10. New Zealand canoe - going to sea as pilots [off Auckland ]

11. Hot lime springs, N. Zealand, the purest Lime and always flowing quite hot [Rotomahana near Rotu-rua]

12. One of the Hill Chiefs, N.Z.

13. Heki: The commander in chief during the late War. He died of consumption in 1849, caused by a blow he received from his wife in a fit of jealousy

14. Native Chief [Honi Heke], New Zealand

15. Chief's Wife, New Zealand

16. The Wife and Child of the Chief "Massenoota", she is seldom without her pipe

Nan Kivell purchased the album for 95, over a reserve of 55, suggesting some brisk bidding. It now forms part of the collection acquired by the National Library of Australia in 1959 (NLA NK762). Of the sixteen New Zealand works originally listed as part of lot 901, eleven are at present catalogued under R.M. Westmacott, a further three are unattributed, though listed, and two remain unaccounted for. This discrepancy between the Museum Book Store (1929) and National Library (1959) listings can partially be explained as a result of the manner in which Nan Kivell dealt with his purchases. He, like other collectors, often failed to keep detailed provenance records. As a result, when his collection was deposited in Canberra between 1959-77, the librarians and archivists were in many instances presented with individual works or albums unaccompanied by purchase details. Nan Kivell also broke up collections and removed individual items from folios for later sale or dispersal to public collections, thereby adding to the problem. As a result of these disruptions, of the sixteen works originally mounted in Westmacott's Drawing Book at the time of the 1929 sale, ten remain attached to the album pages, whilst four are loose. The two missing works (Table 1 - items 14 and 15) may have been disposed of by Nan Kivell prior to their reaching Australia, perhaps ending up in New Zealand, or are at present located in the National Library collection, unattributed and/or incorrectly titled.

These provenance and cataloguing problems exacerbate the more pressing issue of the placement of Robert Marsh Westmacott and his New Zealand works within their appropriate historical context. It is not surprising, therefore, that the artist and his sixteen drawings remain largely unknown to New Zealand art historians, with no reference to Westmacott found in survey art history texts.(9) None of the artist's works were included in the Encounters with Eden exhibition which toured New Zealand during 1990-1, nor reference made to him in the accompanying catalogue, even though that show was largely made up of works from the National Library of Australia's collection.(10) Furthermore, in 1992 a librarian at the Turnbull Library, Wellington, informed a colleague of the author that she doubted if Westmacott ever visited the islands, and that the items in Westmacott's Drawing Book were either original works by other artists, or copies by Westmacott. Whilst there is no doubt that the album includes originals, or good copies, of works by Charles Heaphy, Cuthbert Clarke (1818-1863), J.J. Merrett (1816-54) and R.A. Oliver (1811-89), it is not appropriate to so easily dismiss Westmacott and the role he played in the compilation of the album.(11)

R.M. Westmacott - Soldier Artist

Robert Marsh Westmacott is one of those shadowy figures of history - a man who existed on the periphery of important events but did not figure large enough in the political or economic circumstance of his time to become truly historic. He never made it, for example, into the Australian Dictionary of Biography, though he served as aid-de-camp to Richard Bourke, governor of Cape Colony, South Africa (1828-30) and later New South Wales (1831-7). Westmacott is perhaps best remembered for his two series of lithographs of Australian scenery, printed in England in 1838 and 1848.(12) The only concise, readily available account of his artistic exploits is to be found in Kerr's Dictionary of Australian Artists to 1870.(13) A more fulsome biography has yet to appear.

From these and other scattered references we know that Robert Marsh Westmacott was born at Sidmouth, Devon, in 1801, the second son of the famous British sculptor Sir Richard Westmacott R.A. and his wife Dorothy (nee Wilkinson). Robert, or ‘Watty' as he was known to his friends, came from a family to which the label artistic could be readily applied. Numerous members were skilled in painting, drawing and sculptor. His elder brother Richard followed in his father's footsteps as a sculptor of some repute, whilst young Robert pursued a military career. Of his immediate family, Horatio (1806-62) took up a ministry in the Church of England and Arthur (1815-94) pursued a career in law.

Signing on as an Ensign in the Royal Staff Corps during 1823, Robert was thereafter liberally supported in the purchase of commissions by his father, acquiring the rank of Lieutenant at the end of 1825 and Captain in 1828. Occupied mainly with administrative duties, Westmacott was assigned to Mauritius and South Africa during the second half of the 1820s, and New South Wales during the thirties. In his role as Aid-de-camp he was responsible for the day-to-day management of the various governors' non-political public and social affairs, organising tours and state occasions such as levees and balls. When Richard Bourke's governorship of New South Wales ended in 1837, Westmacott, rather slighted by his long-time employer's indifference towards his future well-being, resigned his commission to settle in the Colony.

During his training with the Royal Staff Corps the young lieutenant received lessons in survey draughtsmanship and landscape drawing, learning some of the tricks of the picturesque movement, including instruction in lithographic printing and engraving. This enabled him to produce accurate and attractive maps, plans and topographic views of the various dominions to which he was stationed. Whilst at Mauritius (1824-6) he undertook a detailed survey of the island and his earliest extant works in an Australian collection date from this period. His familiarity with lithography was put to good use in 1838 when his collection of New South Wales scenes were printed by England's finest lithographer C.J. Hullmandel.(14) Between 1840-3 Hullmandel was also responsible for the production of a set of New Zealand lithographs, after drawings by Charles Heaphy. T. Allom was the artist who transferred the original drawings to stone and Hullmandel was the printer.(15)

Captain Westmacott was one of the last of his generation of soldier-topographic artists to work in Australasia. By the early 1840s the transport of convicts to New South Wales had ceased and professionals artists such as Conrad Martens and John Skinner Prout had set up shop. As a topographical artist and surveyor/draughtsman, Westmacott was not alone in his antipodean experiences. Others of similar background and skills to visit New Zealand during the early colonial period included Charles Heaphy, Captain William Mein Smith, Samuel Charles Brees (1810-65), Charles Kettle, Edward Ashworth (1814-96), John Buchanan (1819-98), Sir William Fox (1812-93) and J.J. Merrett, many of whom were associated with the New Zealand Company. The military officer-artist is also strongly represented in New Zealand from the 1840s through to the late sixties, due to thier presence there in association with the Maori Wars. Individuals of this class include Lt. Thomas James Grant, Lance-Sergeant John Williams, Lt. George Hyde Page, Major Cyprian Bridge, Captain R.A. Oliver, Lt-Colonel W.A. McCleverty, Lt. H.G. Robley, Colonel Henry James Warre and Major Gustav Fredinand von Tempsky.(16)

As a result of his military training Westmacott was most adept in the execution of the topographic view, whilst his figures were usually weak and did not feature. Some of his New South Wales pencil sketches are especially fine, and the use of watercolour for tinting is skilful. Whilst in the colonies he developed a penchant for including ethnographic elements in his work, whether it be of the Australian Aborigines or New Zealand Maoris, though associated figures were mostly smallish, picturesque devices. An exception was the two 1848 lithographs entitled Natives, based on pencil and wash drawings of New South Wales Aborigines. In these prints the hands and faces suggest the work of an amateur, failing as they do to capture the distinctive features of the Australian Aborigine. It should be remembered that the English landscape movement in which Westmacott had some training did not place an emphasis on figurative work to the same degree as did the French during this period. Captain Westmacott must rank as a competent amateur. Indeed, the quality of works such as One of the Hill Chiefs, N.Z. suggested an artist such as R.A. Oliver. Similarly we know that one of the portraits of Hone Heke originally in the album is either by J.J. Merrett or a fine copy, though it clearly bears an inscription by Westmacott.

Westmacott was most enthusiastic about his art. It was noted by Governor Bourke's daughter Anne in 1831 that he always carried a sketchbook with him whilst travelling. As a result, the items offered for sale by the Museum Book Store in 1929 in total presented us with some 156 views of Mauritius, South America, Europe, Abyssinia, New South Wales and New Zealand. The artist's association with Australasia spanned an approximate twenty year period. He arrived in New South Wales late in 1831 as a Captain of the 98th Regiment in the service of Governor Bourke, capably filling the role of A.D.C. until the latter returned to England in 1837. Westmacott stayed on, settling at Illawarra and Sydney. During the following decade he lived like many other wealthy free settlers in the Colony - prosperous in the years up to 1841 as an entrepreneur, landowner, horse breeder and trader, and ship owner, investing heavily before suffering bankruptcy during the early forties as economic depression swept through the Colony. With support from his family back in England, Robert struggled on to rebuild his fortunes after becoming solvent in 1844, however this proved difficult with the depression on-going and the economy remaining relatively stagnant until the goldrushes of 1851 provided some much needed stimulation.

There are a number of reasons which would have taken Westmacott to New Zealand. As he was heavily involved in land speculation in New South Wales during the late thirties and early forties, he may have taken part in the rush to purchase New Zealand land after 1837, following on the formation of the New Zealand Association, later New Zealand Company. The opportunities for quick profit across the Tasman were at that time greater than existed in New South Wales. To facilitate this process, early in 1840 a group of Sydney businessmen formed the New South Wales Steam Navigation Company to instigate steam traffic between the two colonies, and on 9 January 1840 Governor Gipps despatched Captain William Hobson in the Herald to take up residence at Auckland as Lieutenant-Governor. Unfortunately no records of New Zealand land purchases by Westmacott have so far been identified.

Westmacott was forced to leave his adopted homeland in 1847 for England, with the hope of better prospects. Not finding a suitable position, he returned briefly to Australia in 1850-1 as superintendent of the Australian Agricultural Company. Unfortunately this episode was surrounded by tragedy and scandal - his wife eloped with a ship's captain shortly after their arrival at Sydney and Robert was forced to quit the office of superintendent due to local animosities dating back to 1840 and his insolvency. Also, his eldest son died in England whilst the family were on the high seas returning to England. He arrived there in February 1852 and during the year became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Geological Society, having been nominated to the latter by Sir Roderick Murchison. In July he was listed as Managing Director of the New South Wales Gold Mines Company, operating from England. This company was not successful and quickly faded from the scene, with Westmacott leaving them in mid 1853, possibly to take up an offer to visit New Zealand and investigate the viability of the Pakewau coal fields near Nelson. The following item appeared in the Nelson Examiner of 31 December 1853:

Sir — In connection with a paragraph in the Wellington Independent (I believe of the 10th instant), on the subject of the Pakawau coal, it may interest many of your readers to hear, that by a letter which I have just received from England, I am informed, that " Captain Westmacott (son of the late Sir Richard) has started for Nelson, instructed to enquire into the capability of the Pakawau Coal Fields to yield a permanent supply of coal." I am, &c, W. T. L. Travers. Nelson, Dec. 23, 1853.

Pakawau is located on the northern tip of New Zealand's South Island, in Massacre Bay. Investigations into coal mining there commenced with a preliminary survey by Charles Heaphy during 1846. In 1852 the Pakawau Coal Mining Association / Pakawau Coal and Mining Company was formed with the intention of mining the area, however following its dissolution, the Nelson Mining Company took over the project. It is unclear whether Westmacott actually reached New Zealand and carried out the survey work as indictated in the news item. This may have occupied him during 1854, after which he returned to England. Coal mining eventually got underway at Pakawau in 1865. Westmacott is known to have worked as a railway surveyor in South America during 1858-9, where he contracted malaria. He died at Twinkenam in 1870, apparently alone and leaving no will.

The New Zealand Connection

It is possible that Captain Westmacott made a number of visits to New Zealand between 1831-54. The existence of the sixteen New Zealand works in Westmacott's album point to a visit there some time between 1831-51, whilst the Nelson Examiner item suggests a visit during 1854. Westmacott may have put in briefly at the North Island during the two return voyages to England via Cape Horn in 1847 and 1851, as it was common for vessels to head east from Sydney for the Cape via the Cook Strait separating the two islands, enabling him to purchase items during the stopover at Wellington. Such a scenario does not account for the variety of localities covered in his album and the fact that items in his various sketchbooks tend to reflect his specific travels.. The information contained therein is indicative of an extended coastal voyage around the North Island. There is no doubt in the author's mind that Westmacott visited New Zealand, with his two pencil sketches taken from the southern shore of Auckland harbour and looking north are strong evidence of this. Unfortunately we remain in the dark concerning the precise dates and circumstances of the visit or visits.

Whilst the drawings themselves for a long time provided the strongest evidence of Westmacott's presence in New Zealand, recent information from a family member strengthens the link. Commander Herbert Patrick Westmacott DSO DSC, a former resident of New Zealand who subsequently moved to Sussex, England, and his sister Mrs Margaret Wigley of Waimate, have suggested that Robert Marsh Westmacott travelled to New Zealand during the 1840s as the owner of a trading vessel and also formed an association there with a Maori woman of the King Country. Commander Westmacott and Mrs Wigley are the children of Spencer Westmacott, born at Christchurch in 1885. They are the great-grandchildren of the Reverend Horatio Westmacott, younger brother of Robert Marsh Westmacott. Spencer's father Herbert (son of Horatio) had settled in New Zealand during 1862, and other members of the family are known to have come to the islands during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Like many members of the Westmacott clan, there was an on-going interest in the arts, with Herbert Westmacott, of Marlborough, listed as one of the subscribers to Charles Decimus Barraud's exquisite collection of lithographs, New Zealand: Graphic and Descriptive, issued in London during 1877.(17) Commander Westmacott, in a 1991 letter to the author, initially inquired as to whether Robert had ever visited New Zealand, then provided an account of his own family's recollections:

My reason for asking is that I farmed the property my Father left, in the King Country of the North Island of New Zealand, and as described in a book my wife assembled based on my Father's memoirs, ("The After-Breakfast Cigar" by Spencer Westmacott), the Maoris of that locality claimed descent from a Westmacott.(18) I had understood that the Westmacott in question had been a Robert Marsh W., en route to take up his duties as A.D.C. to the Governor of New South Wales. My version had it that his ship had traded around the coast of N.Z. and called into the port of Kawhia, where R.M.W. was able to indulge in a dalliance.

Like many such accounts, this paragraph most likely contains elements of fact. Sections relate to our knowledge of R.M. Westmacott, however other elements are in conflict. For example, he is known to have arrived in Sydney from London on the same vessel as Governor Bourke in December 1831, with no stopover made at New Zealand or possibility of a visit there before this. Westmacott was married just prior to the voyage, therefore any philandering with a Maori woman at this early stage is highly unlikely, though he later had marital difficulties. His relationship with his wife came to an end in 1851. It has been recorded that whilst resident at Bulli between 1837-47, their domestic life was so stormy that they resided in separate houses upon the property.

Elements of Commander Westmacott's account ring true. The reference to his ship trading around the New Zealand coast may relate to the fact that between 1839-41 Captain Westmacott was a major shareholder in the Illawarra Steam Packet Company and later the General Steam Navigation Company, which owned and operated a number of coastal steam vessels including the Sophia Jane, William IV, and the Maitland. He was also the owner of a small 13 ton brig the Trial which traded along the eastern coast of New South Wales between Newcastle, Sydney, and his home port of Bulli in Illawarra, carrying coal and other commodities. If it is true that Westmacott travelled aboard his own trading vessel to New Zealand, then it would most likely have occurred during the period 1839-41. The vessel may have been one of those belonging to the General Steam Navigation Company or the brig Trial.(19) He may also have been involved in such trade up to the time of his departure from the colony in 1847.

The locality of the various North Island drawings in Westmcott's collection, and the fact that some are inland and highly detailed, suggests that he was involved in a lengthy cruise around that island. Kawhai, where he was supposed to have had a dalliance with a local Maori woman, is located on the west coast, north of the Mokau river and south of the Waikato, both of which localities are recorded in views taken by the artist. Mrs Wigley's further account suggests that the Westmacott with the Maori connection was not Robert Marsh, but one James Westmacott (1812-79), who was at Kawhia in 1837, though he is not known to have been a sea captain or owner of a vessel. There is also a record in the Turnbull Library of an unidentified A.J. Westmacott writing from Matai to Donald Mclean around 1849. Perhaps this was Robert's younger brother Arthur Westmacott, a lawyer who had resided with him in New South Wales during 1839-42, before supposedly returning to England.

New Zealand Drawings

Judging from individual technique and compositional style, and comparison with the many New South Wales works by Westmacott in the Mitchell and Dixson Library collections in Sydney and National Library of Australia collection, it is clear that the Westmacott Drawing Book includes works by Westmacott and others. The figure studies and ethnographic works present an uncharacteristic use of watercolour and evidence of a more skilled hand, as inNew Zealand canoe, going to sea as pilots. The surviving collection of fourteen works varies in quality from simple, naive pencil sketches, with an overuse of cross-hatching and lightly tinted with wash, to finished watercolours of ethnographic and historic import, beautifully coloured. The rough pencil and wash sketches are most likely by Westmacott, whilst the finer watercolours can be attributed to the likes of Cuthbert Clarke and R.A. Oliver.

As with many colonial period artworks, the value of Westmacott's Drawing Book is largely dependant upon its historical context, informational content, artistic quality, and state of preservation. If the works contained therein are were merely copies and the originals survive elsewhere, then their significance is diminished. However, if they are original, unique works - by Westmacott or other artists - then their significance is enhanced.

Identified views in Westmacott's Drawing Book are associated with coastal and inland areas of the North Island, apart from the view of the Tory in Queen Charlotte's Sound which is a copy after an original 1839 pencil sketch by Charles Heaphy. They include images of the Hutt and Pakuratahi rivers near Wellington, the Mokau and Waikato rivers and Manukau on the western coast of the North Island, the former lime springs of Rotomahana near Rotu-rua on the east coast, and the Huraki Gulf and Auckland in the north. The ethnographic works and portraits are also mostly associated with the North Island. Hone Heki was a resident of the Bay of Islands area, whilst Massenoota was a famous chief of the Taranaki region.

Judging from the various localities, a possible itinerary for Westmacott's visit could be as follows: sails from Sydney across the Tasman towards the Cook Strait, wherein he passed by Queen Charlotte's Sound and headed easterly towards Wellington. From here he undertook a journey inland, up the Hutt River past Mungaroa Bridge and on to the Pakuratahi River near Wairarupa, 60km to the north east, possibly in search of land to purchase. William Fox (1812-93), a New Zealand Company employee, lawyer and journalist, explored the Wairarupa in 1843, whilst Taringa Kuri and Charles Brees surveyed a route from Wellington to that place shortly thereafter. Perhaps Westmacott's view of the area dates from this period, though an 1849 sketch of the bridge by William Swainson is also known.(20)

Upon returning to Wellington, Westmacott may have then have sailed northerly along the west coast, visiting the rivers Mokau and Waikato, and perhaps also New Plymouth in the Taranaki district, where a portrait of the wife and child of Massenoota was taken, though in all likelihood Westmacott purchased these works from the original artist in Wellington or Auckland. From the west coast of the North Island he moved on to Auckland, taking views from the south side of the main harbour and in the Huraki Gulf region to the east. This may have been followed by a visit to the Bay of Islands area, the land of Honi Heke, and south-east to the Rotu-rua district where an excursion inland took him to the spectacular lime springs of Te Tarata or Rotomahana, supposedly first discovered by Europeans in 1850.

At present the works in Westmacott's Drawing Book remain dated as circa 1840, after the Museum Book Store catalogue entry. Whilst many of the works could have been acquired or produced during the 1840s, there is no doubt that Westmacott added various inscriptions at later dates. The portrait of Honi Heke bears an inscription in Westmacott's hand which post-dates his death in 1850. Westmacott's view of Tory Channel, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand [with] Native Fort is identical to Charles Heaphy's sketch of August 1839.(21) Cuthbert Clarke's original View on the Mokau River, which Westmacott also copied, dates from 1850. Clarke had arrived in New Zealand in 1849 and was transported at sea by Captain Oliver, before leaving for the Australian goldfields in 1852. A date around 1850 is therefore appropriate for some works in the album, though not all.

Of the sixteen works originally listed in the Museum Book Store catalogue of 1929, Tory Channel is clearly a copy after Charles Heaphy's 1839 sketch.View on the Mokau River is a copy after a work by Cuthbert Clarke, dated 1850, as also is Hot lime springs, whilst the pair Bow of a War Canoe and Stern of a War Canoe are most likely by Clarke as well. Heki is by J.J. Merrett or a good copy and dates from that artist's visit to the great chief's pa in February 1846, though numerous copies and variants of this portrait are known.(22) One of the Hill Chief's is by R.A. Oliver, as is New Zealand canoe, going to sea as pilots. Furthermore, one of the missing works, The Wife and child of the chief Massanoota - now an untitled portrait of a Maori woman with child in the Nan Kivell collection - is also by Oliver. Without any more precise details concerning the sixteen works originally in Westmacott's Drawing Book, at this stage we can state that seven are copies or originals by Robert Marsh Westmacott. Of the remainder, six are original works by other artists. The circumstances of their production and acquisition remains a mystery. Despite thees problems with provenance, they represent a significant collection of artworks from New Zealand 's early colonial period.

War Canoes

Stern of a war canoe. The carved work is by means of flints. National Library of Australia, Westmacott Drawing Book, NK762/39. Based on an original work by Cuthbert Clarke.

Of the fourteen extant New Zealand works in Westmacott's Drawing Book, the pair Bow of a War Canoe, New Zealand and Stern of a War Canoe. The carved work is by means of flints stand out in terms of artistic expression and ethnographic significance. Both are part of a suite of watercolours by Cuthbert Clarke. They are especially fine in their portrayal of the New Zealand war canoe (Waka-taua), once described as the most spectacular achievement of Maori culture.(23) The hulls were constructed from a single giant totara or kauri log, with the bow and stern post intricately carved, and the whole painted in red and black with additional feather decoration. These sea-going vessels featured in war, ceremony and Maori mythology, though few have survived intact since colonisation. The detailed illustration of the intricate wood carving which was a feature of this most valued tribal possession is a reflection of the artist's skill and appreciation of the local culture.

The splendour of the Maori war canoe was brought to the attention of Europeans by artists such as Sidney Parkinson and Herman Sporing, members of the crew of the Endeavour under Captain James Cook, who sketched various examples during the time of their visit to the islands at the end of 1769.(24) The various French expeditions from that time until the 1840s also took views of war canoes and items of ethnographic interest, including portraits.(25) A. Hamilton, in his illustrated volume Maori Art gives a detailed description of the construction of, and mythology surrounding Maori war canoes of the North Island.(26) The large ornamented prow (tauiha) and the stern piece (tau-rapa) were both removable, having been carved from a single kauri wood log (tau-ihu) by tribal men of rank. The intricate designs were usually of great local and mythological significance, with the elaborate coil work (pitau) sometimes associated with Winiwini the god of the cobweb. All great war canoes had personal names and gained mana after successful war expeditions.

Bow of a war canoe, New Zealand shows an intricately carved prow with a waving, undulating main stem or band passing from the lower to upper corner, surrounded by spirals on either side, the whole painted in red ochre. At its base is a small figurehead looking outwards, whilst two human figurines are also located on either side of the canoe at the point where the connection with the bow piece is made. It was more usual for a single figure to be carved at the base of the prow, looking ominously inwards towards the crew. Westmacott's example also includes an elaborate wig of feathers adorning the figurative pieces and bow extremity, along with two long wands ( puhi ) resembling the antennae of a butterfly, and elaborately ornamented with albatross feathers tied in a small bunch at intervals of about a foot. It has been recorded in the region of Queen Charlotte's Sound than when such a canoe was successfully employed in battle, the heart of a slain enemy would be mounted on one of these puhi.(27) They were also used for navigational purposes. Along the central and southern part of the North Island the bow and stern were usually painted the same colour as the canoe, namely a fine red made from kokowai, a red ochre or oxide, mixed with shark oil, but in the northern districts were painted black. The prow depicted in Westmacott's Drawing Book is similar to those illustrated in Hamilton (plate V), with an overall red colouring. A complete canoe with red hull and black bow and stern pieces is to be seen in the Maori Hall of the Auckland Museum, it being the only complete war canoe to have survived the early colonial period.

The second of this pair, Stern of a war canoe, shows the stern post, marvellously carved and with two bunches of black feathers adorning its base. This piece also features the spirals seen in the prow, situated on either side of two ascending bars and similarly decorated with spirals. These bars acted as strengthening members of the stern piece, with the larger spiral sections completely perforating the wood. A tattooed Maori chief is sitting at the fire close by, smoking, whilst on the opposite side of the river is a high mountain, probably in the Hauraki Gulf, east of Auckland. Another version of this watercolour is to be found in the Turnbull Library collection. It shows this very same carved canoe, with fire and a crouching man, but adds another man and a different landscape in the background. The location of these views is problematic - whilst the overall red colouring of the bow and stern pieces is indicative of those found in the southern part of the North Island, the background topography suggests the Huraki Gulf region near Auckland.

R.A. Oliver's New Zealand Canoe - going to sea as pilots is a companion piece to his Off Auckland (NK 1412/J), both works portraying a large war canoe raising sail as it heads out to sea. These watercolours combine aspects of the prow and stern works described above, further revealing not only the functionality of such large vessels as part of their traditional association with war and ceremony, but also their post-colonial role in aiding the process of colonisation via the piloting of European vessels through rocky and dangerous waters to safe anchorage. Due to their long and narrow dimensions they were unstable in strong winds and heavy swells, and as such were not generally used for ocean-going trips along the coast or between islands, though in calm conditions they could travel up to 75 km per day along such terrain. An elaborate stern piece adorns this particular canoe, whilst a large figurehead is the main feature of the prow, unlike the example described above. The sails ( ra, or mamaru ) shown in this work consist of a central mast and boom, plus a triangular mat made in a particular manner from the leaves of the raupo. Such canoes were capable of travelling at a considerable rate when combined with the rhythmical strokes of the paddles used by the crew.

Captain Richard Aldworth Oliver, commander of the HMS Fly, was stationed in New Zealand between April 1848 and August 1851. During 1852 he published in London a folio of lithographic prints of New Zealand scenery, and a number of his highly detailed watercolours also survive in public and private collections.(28) A note attached to New Zealand canoe - going to sea as pilots indicates that it is a copy of an original drawing by Oliver, though upon comparison with that artist's Off Auckland it is almost certainly by him, and not Westmacott. The question then arises - how did the latter acquire such material?

This is easy to answer if the image is one which was published via engraving or lithograph, as with the Heaphy view of Tory Channel, whereby Westmacott would obtain his copy. However it seems unlikely that an artist would give Westmacott access to his original sketchbooks unless he was an intimate acquaintance, though our subject did move in such circles, being a member of the Royal Geographical Society and acquaintance of promoters of colonial exploration such as Sir Roderick Murchison, president of the Society. The note ascribing New Zealand canoe - going to sea as pilots to Oliver was perhaps made by Rex Nan Kivell following the 1929 London sale, as there is no reference to it in the Museum Book Store listing, unlike a similar note attached to the view of Tory Channel which indicates that it was lithographed by Heaphy and Swainson, and which is specifically referred to in that catalogue. By this stage Nan Kivell would have been familiar with a great many images from New Zealand 's colonial period, enabling him to make the attribution.

Maori Portraits

The majority of Captain Westmacott's art consists of topographic views, with figures featuring rarely, though usually present in the form of small, picturesque devices located in the left or right foreground of a view, thereby lending scale and ethnicity to the landscape. In a few instances he has concentrated on the figure alone, producing full length portraits of New South Wales Aborigines. Two lithographs and three washes are known. Portraits of the New Zealand Maori in Westmacott's Drawing Book originally numbered some five watercolours. Two are known, and three ‘lost'. The head and shoulders portrait of Heki (13) is undoubtedly by J.J. Merrett, and One of the Hill Chief's is most likely by R.A. Oliver. Perhaps Nan Kivell realised this upon purchase of the album in 1929, removing and recataloguing works he felt belonged to such artists. There is no doubt that there is a great similarity between One of the Hill Chief's. N.Z. in Westmacott's album, and the work Maori woman and child by Oliver in the Nan Kivell collection. We could therefore assume all of the New Zealand portraits originally in Westmacott's Drawing Book were by Merritt or Oliver.

Heki. N.Z. Chief. "Heki" The Commander in chief during the late War; he died of Consumption in 1849, caused by a blow he received from his Wife in a fit of jealousy. National Library of Australia, formerly Westmacott's Drawing Book, NK221. Most likely an original work by J.J. Merritt, with inscription by Robert Marsh Westmacott.

A number of Oliver's works are in the National Library of Australia collection, including Honi, Bay of Islands (NK1412/C), Maori with mat clock and gun (NK1412/E), Maori woman and child (NK1412/G & I) and Maori woman suckling child seated on floor by a table (NK2001). There is a possibility that one of the Maori woman with child watercolours is the work originally listed as The Wife and Child of the Chief "Massenoota", she is seldom without her pipe in Westmacott's Drawing Book. Westmacott's copies may have been acquired in England post 1852. We know that Oliver was in there during this period, though this was not the case with Merrett who remained in New Zealand up to the time of his death in 1854. How Westmacott came to acquire the head and shoulders portrait of Heki is problematic, though Merritt was a commercial artist, patronised for a period by Governor George Grey, and may have produced numerous copies of such an important subject for the local and overseas markets.

In Westmacott's Australian figurative pieces, the body features and proportions are competently executed, though the artist has failed to capture any distinctive facial features, and they appear somewhat brutish, with the arms clumsily placed. A similar, though less exaggerated clumsiness of limbs was a distinctive feature of Merrett's Maori portraits from the 1840s, though he was a far better artist than our Captain, producing ethnographic images which are now valued for their accuracy and detail.(29) Oliver's One of the Hill Chiefs, N.Z. presents us with the tattooed face of what looks like an attractive young Englishman. The differences between these Maori portraits and Westamcott's Aboriginal equivalent perhaps reflect the view earlier expressed by Augustus Earle, following his visit to New Zealand in 1827-8:

...the natives of the former [New South Wales]... seem of the lowest grade - the last link in the great chain of existence which unites man with the monkey... While the natives of the latter [New Zealand] are `cast in beauty's perfect mould': the children are so fine each might serve as a model for a statue of `the Infant Hercules'.(30)

Westmacott obviously looked more favourably upon the Maori and their culture than he had done with the Australian Aborigines, who he described as `wild people... the lowest scale of human beings at present known to the white man... small in stature, with large heads, broad shoulders, long arms, and very ugly.'(31) Prior to the outbreak of conflict in the mid 1840s, Europeans regarded Maoris as `physically well-favoured, intelligent barbarians', a version of the noble savage, though one to be feared and respected, not pitied as was often the case with the Australian Aborigines.(32) Despite this perceived barbarism, and an element of `horrified loathing' on the part of the British as a result of massacres and tales of cannibalism in the islands during the first half of the nineteenth century, the Maori were nevertheless considered `worthy and capable of assimilation into British civilisation', much to their ultimate disadvantage.(33)

It is telling that Westmacott's Drawing Book should originally contain two portraits of Hone Heke (c1810-50), the most famous of the Maori opponents to British colonisation of New Zealand and `a man of noble nature'. Heke, a Ngapuhi chief, led the successful attack on the English establishment at Kororareka in March 1845, causing much consternation amongst the colonists and colonial authorities. Oliver's One of the Hill Chiefs, N.Z. also presents us with a somewhat menacing view of a Maori chief, with rifle in hand, prepared to fight off neighbouring tribes and `the course of Empire' then enveloping his country.

Elusive Origins

As it stands, the precise details of R.M. Westmacott's visit to New Zealand are unknown. It is telling that his numerous Australian drawings from the same period are, as far as we know, all original works, with no known copies from other artists. It is therefore strange that he would seemingly make copies in the case of New Zealand alone. Given Westmacott's background, military training and travels around the world, it seems strange that he would produce a series of drawings of a country which he had not visited, and place them within an album of drawings of those countries upon which he had set foot. If he was a copyist, why do we therefore not have views by him of America, or the Pacific islands such as Tahiti which were so popular with the British? The jury is therefore still out on this point, though this author feels that the sixteen works include a mixture of copies and original works taken `on the spot' by Westmacott. Pending the precise circumstances of their production being made known, in the interim the items in Westmacott's Drawing Book should take their place within the catalogue of works from New Zealand 's early colonial period, as an interesting collection worthy of notice.

Appendix 1

Drawings of New Zealand

The description of each work given below is taken from the Museum Book Store catalogue and National Library of Australia listing, with additional notes by the author. Title, medium, dimensions and location are given. Title information is usually as contained upon the sketch in Westmacott's hand, where applicable; medium is usually watercolour over pencil, upon paper; dimensions are in centimetres. The works are arranged as in Table 1 above. Abbreviations used include:

Tory Channel, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand [with] Native Fort. National Library of Australia, Westmacott's Drawing Book, NK762/33. Copy by Westmacott after an original work by Charles Heaphy from c.1839.

ML - Mitchell Library, Sydney

NK - Nan Kivell Collection, National Library of Australia

NLA - National Library of Australia, Canberra

TL - Turnbull Library, Wellington

Catalogue of Works

1. Tory Channel, Queen Charlotte Sound, New Zealand [with] Native Fort

Pencil & sepia wash - 21 x 33.8 cm - NLA NK762/33

Drawing in pencil on coloured paper with sepia and blue wash highlights. After an original pen, pencil and wash sketch by Charles Heaphy, inscribed Tory Channel, Queen Charlotte Sound. August 1839. This is a view of the channel with a fortified pah on Mohio Island, a fully rigged ship (the Tory) sailing up, followed by a sailing canoe and two smaller canoes. A contemporary account by a member of the crew recorded that on the Mohio Island `summit were formed pa's or villages, and all the inhabitants looked down on us as we passed close by.... Their character was pronounced by the whalers who accompanied us to be thievish and troublesome; but I have learned to regard the evidence of Europeans against the natives with great distrust'.(34) Westmacott has inserted two Maori figures in the foreground of his version, which is otherwise identical to Heaphy's original sketch in the Victoria University of Wellington collection. According to a note attached to Westmacott's drawing, a lithograph was afterwards made of this view by George Frederick Swainson and Heaphy, in 1851. A copy of this print is held by the Turnbull Library (A189/23), though it is not listed in Ellis (1978), suggesting it was never publically circulated. Charles Heaphy was artist and draughtsman to the New Zealand Company, staying on in Wellington after the New Zealand Company survey vessel Tory sailed for Sydney, and subsequently working as a government surveyor and gold commissioner. Tory Channel is located between Arapawa Island and the mainland on the northern tip of the South Island. It was surveyed and named by Captain E.M. Chaffers, commander of the Tory, on 31 August 1839, and the original drawing dates from this time. The vessel had left England on 6 May, arriving at Ship Cove, Queen Charlotte Sound on 18 August. Late in the year the Tory sailed to the Kaipara and Hokianga districts. She left Port Nicholson (Wellington) for Sydney on 20 April 1840 and was wrecked near Batavia the following year.

2. Mungaroa Bridge, Upper Hutt

Pencil & watercolour - 15.8 x 24.8 cm - NLA NK762/35

Pencil sketch with touches of sepia and blue wash. A view taken from the river below, with a group of Maori natives seen near the hut on the road beyond the bridge. Mangaroa is 5 km from Upper Hutt, and 35 km from Wellington. See also William Swainson's Mungaroa Bridge, Upper Hutt. Jan. 7th, 1849 in the Hocken Library.(35)

Pakuratahi River nr. Wairarapa, N.Z. Hutt River. National Library of Australia, Westmacott's Drawing Book, NK762/40. Original pencil and watercolour sketch by Robert Marsh Westmacott.

3. Pakuratahi River nr. Wairarapa, N.Z. Hutt River

Pencil & watercolour - 15.8 x 25.9 cm - NLA NK762/40

Pencil sketch with touches of sepia and blue wash. A view of the river with a Maori canoe crossing, whilst in the foreground a Maori is spearing fish. Pakuratahi River (Stream) is an upper tributary of the Hutt River, about 60km north east of Wellington.

4. On the Mokau River, West Coast, N.Z.

Pencil & watercolour - 17.5 x 25.5 cm - NLA NK762/36

Pencil sketch with touches of sepia and blue wash. A view across the river looking towards the forest-clad hills, in the locality where coal was first discovered in the Taranaki district. Mokau River is approximately 90 km from New Plymouth, on the western side of the North Island. Westmacott may have visited the area to check out the coal reserves as he was moving towards mining that mineral at Illawarra during 1839-40. This work is a copy after Cuthbert Clarke's pen and wash drawing View on the Mokau River, west coast, New Zealand 1850 (NK560).

5. On the "Waikato". New Zealand

Sepia wash - 18.1 x 25.5 cm - NLA NK1197

Waikato River is on the west coast of North Island, south of Auckland. Title from inscription on mount. Showing the river looking east towards the double peaks of a mountain. In the foreground is a canoe with a high carved stern-post, and a similar canoe is being rowed across the river. This work is typical of Westmacott's use of sepia wash, as seen in many of his New South Wales works located in the Mitchell Library, Sydney.

6. Middle entrance to Auckland Harbour, New Zealand

Pencil - 17 x 25.5 cm - NLA NK762/37

Pencil sketch. View from Tamaki Head, looking towards Rangitoto and Tapa with a number of European vessels under sail.

7. Auckland Harbour from the Bastion Rock

Pencil & watercolour - 14.5 x 30.2 cm - NLA NK762/34

A view looking into the harbour, with Auckland (so-named in 1840) seen in the distance on the left. Bastion Point, or Rock, is located near Mission Bay and was originally Fort Bastion, guarding the entrance to Waitemata Harbour.

8. Bow of a war canoe, New Zealand

Watercolour - 17.5 x 26.4 cm - NLA NK762/38

Showing the fine carved bow, with a design formed by spirals and a carved figure, with long bunches of feathers and two antennae at the point of the bow. This is an especially fine watercolour, described in detail above. Most likely by Cuthbert Clarke. See also Head of a canoe, N.Z. 1851 (NK339/C); New Zealand war canoe scudding for shelter 1861 (Mitchell Library V*MAO/IMPL1); and Stern of a war canoe (catalogue no. 8) below.

9. Stern of a war canoe. The carved work is by means of flints

Watercolour - 35 x 24 cm - NLA NK762/39

Showing the stern post of a Maori canoe, marvellously carved with two bunches of black feathers at the base; the work of kauri wood. A tattooed Maori chief is sitting at the fire close by, smoking. On the opposite side of the river is a high mountain. The landscape is probably in the Hauraki Gulf, east of Auckland. This is especially fine watercolour, in the style of cat 8 above and most likely of the same vessel. This work may be attributed to Cuthbert Clarke, as a watercolour by him in the Turnbull Library (E144/68) shows the same carved canoe, with fire and a crouching man, but also adds another man and a different landscape in the background.

10. New Zealand canoe, going to sea as pilots

Watercolour - 16.9 x 25.4 cm - NLA NK1413

Showing a sailing canoe with carved stern post and a curious head at the prow; three Maoris raising the sail. According to a later attached inscription (not in Westmacott's hand) this is a copy by Westmacott of an original drawing by Captain Richard Aldworth Oliver who issued a series of lithographic views of New Zealand in 1852. However, it is more likely that this work is by Oliver, and is a companion to his `Off Auckland' (NK1412/J) which shows the identical canoe off Auckland with the sail about to be raised.

11. Hot lime springs, N. Zealand, the purest Lime and always flowing quite hot

Sepia wash & white - 17.7 x 25.3 cm - NLA NK762/42

Work in sepia wash and white on coloured paper. Shows the former circular basins of Rotomahana in the Rotorua district of the North Island, located approximately 25 km south east of the town of Rotorua. According to an attached inscription, this work is a copy of a drawing taken by Cuthbert Clarke in 1850, however it is also possibly an original work by that artist. See also his `Te Tarata, boiling springs at Rotomahana, N.Z. 1851' (NLA NK339/A); `Te Tatata or White Cascade of the boiling springs on the Lake of Rotomahana, District of Taupo, New Zealand' (ML V7B/Roto/7); and Clarke & G.F Swainson's Te Tarata, boiling springs at Rotomahana, N.Z. (NLA NK339/D). Charles Heaphy also produced a number of views of the boiling springs near Rotorua around 1850 (Minson, 54), whilst C.D. Barraud in 1877 published a chromolithograph entitled Te Tarata, on the Rotomahana Lake.(36) The springs were destroyed in 1887 following a nearby volcanic explosion.

12. One of the Hill Chiefs, N.Z.

Watercolour - 24.5 x 17.9 cm - NLA NK762/41

Showing a Maori chief wearing a double flax mat over his shoulder, and feathers in his hair; his face tattooed, and in his right hand he carries a rifle. This is most probably by R.A. Oliver, whose series of Maori portraits may be found in the Nan Kivell collection.

13. Heki. N.Z. Chief. "Heki" The Commander in chief during the late War; he died of Consumption in 1849, caused by a blow he received from his Wife in a fit of jealousy

Pencil & watercolour - 22.9 x 20.2 cm - NLA NK221

Drawing by J.J. Merrett, with Heki. N.Z. Chief inscription in his hand, lower right, whilst the remainder of the inscription is by Westmacott. "Heki" refers to Honi Heke, the Maori chief who led the rebellion of 1845-6. Merritt visited Heki's pa in February 1846 and rather clandestinely took his portrait.(37) A number of variants are known, including one produced in 1856 by an unknown artist, though bearing Merritt's signature. The above work may be a preliminary sketch.(38)

14. Native Chief, New Zealand

Watercolour - 22.4 x 17.3 cm - Location unknown

Showing a chief, probably Honi Heke, standing clad in a red blanket and a coloured flax mat with a dog's-tooth collar. His face is tattooed except for the chin, and he carries a `mere' in his right hand. C.f. NK321.

15. Chief's Wife, New Zealand

Watercolour - 20.3 x 10.2 cm - NLA NK1274 or NK1275

Showing a Maori woman of high rank – possibly Honi Heke's wife Harriet - tattooed across the lips and chin. She wears a long fringed blanket.

16. The Wife and Child of the Chief "Massenoota", she is seldom without her pipe

Watercolour - 22.4 x 17.3 cm - NLA NK1412/G

View of a Maori woman wearing a striped gown, covered with a fringed blanket, a child resting on her lap. Massenoota was a chief well known at Taranaki. This is the work in the Nan Kivell collection catalogued as Maori Woman with Child (NK1412/G) by R.A. Oliver, though the woman in that work is very similar to Honi Heki's wife as seen in J.J. Merritt's portrait.(39) Other works by him with similar subjects are located at NK1412/I and NK2001.


1. Elsie Locke & Janet Paul, Mrs Hobson's Album, Auckland University Press, 1989, 168p.

2. E.J. Wakefied, Adventures in New Zealand, from 1839 to 1844; with some account of the beginning of the British colonization of the islands, John Murray, London, 2 volumes, 1845, 482 & 546p. S. Cheyne, ‘The Sailing of the "Tory": The Myth that the New Zealand Company Influenced the Annexation of New Zealand ', Historical News, 62, 1991, 10-14. E.J. Tapp, Early New Zealand - A Dependency of New South Wales 1788-1841, Melbourne University Press, 1958, 192p.

3. T.C. Mitchell, (ed.), Captain Cook and the South Pacific, ANU Press, Canberra, 1979, 249p.

4. T.L. Buick, The French at Akaroa. An Adventure in Colonization, New Zealand Book Depot, Wellington, 1928, 436p. Roger Collins, New Zealand seen by the French 1769-1846, National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, 1991, 58p.

5. Gil Docking, Two Hundred Years of New Zealand Painting, Lansdowne Press, Melbourne, 1971, 212p. E.M. & D.G. Ellis, Early Prints of New Zealand, 1642-1875, Avon Fine Prints, Christchurch, 1978, 328p.

6. Bernard Smith, European Vision and the South Pacific, Second edition, Harper & Row, Sydney, 1985.

7. Anthony Murray-Oliver, Augustus Earle in New Zealand, Whitcombe & Tombs, Christchurch, 1968, 167p. Cf. Augustus Earle, Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand in 1827; Together with a Journal of a Residence in Tristan D'Acunha, an Island situated between South America and the Cape of Good Hope, Longman, Rees, Orme, Green & Longman, London, 1832; Narrative of a Residence in New Zealand in 1827, Whitcombe & Tombs, Christchurch, 1909; Augustus Earle & E.H. McCormick (ed), Narrative of a Residence in New Zealand; Journal of a Residence in Tristan da Cunha, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1966, 270p.

8. Briar Gordon & Peter Stupples, Charles Heaphy, Pitman, Wellington, 1987, 48p.

9. G.H. Brown & H. Keith, New Zealand Painting: an introduction. 1839-1967, Collins, Auckland, 1969, 223p. Docking, op cit. Michael Dunn, A Concise History of New Zealand Painting, Craftsman House, Roseville, 1991, 197p.

10. Marion Minson, Encounter with Eden - New Zealand 1770 - 1870. Paintings and Drawings from the Rex Nan Kivell Collection, National Library of Australia, National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, 1990, 78p.

11. R.A. Oliver, Sketches in New Zealand, Dickinson & Co., London, 1852. Reissued in facsimile Martinborough, 1977.

12. R.M. Westmacott, Sketches in Australia, Exeter, 1848.

13. Joan Kerr (ed.), The Dictionary of Australian Artists. Painters, Sketchers, Photographers and Engravers to 1870, Oxford University Press, Melbourne, 1992, 850-1.

14. Michael Twyman, ‘Charles Joseph Hullmandel - Lithographic printer extraordinary', in Lasting Impressions: Lithography as Art, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, 1988, 42-90, 362-7.

15. Ellis, op cit., 89-95.

16. Brown & Keith, op cit.

17. C.D. Barraud, New Zealand : Graphic and Descriptive, Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington, London, 1877.

18. H.F. Westmacott (ed.), The After Breakfast Cigar. Selected Memoirs of a King Country Settler, by Spencer Westmacott, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1977, 206p.

19. S. Ville, `The Coastal Trade of New Zealand prior to World War One', New Zealand Journal of History, 27(1), 1993, 75-89. R.K. Walter, `The development and use of communication networks in the prehistoric North Island of New Zealand', Archaeology in Oceania, 23(2), July 1988, 71-7.

20. H.D. Skinner, Catalogue of Exhibition of Pictures of Landscape and Topographical Subjects who worked in the First Fifty Years of New Zealand History, Hocken Library and Otago Museum, November 1940.

21. Original sketch illustrated in Philip Temple, New Zealand Explorers - Great Journeys of Discovery, Whitcoulls, Christchurch, 1985, 192p.

22. Minson, op cit., 42-3.

23. T. Barrow, The Decorative Arts of the New Zealand Maori, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington, 1964, 112p. Elsdon Best, The Maori Canoe: an account of various types of vessels used by the Maori of New Zealand in former times, with some description of those of the Isles of the Pacific, and a brief account of the peopling of New Zealand, Bulletin of the Dominion Museum, No 7, Government Printer, Wellington, 1925, 318p. [Reissued Wellington, 1976, 452p]. Anne Nelson, Maori Canoes / Nga waka Maori, Macmillan, Auckland, 1991, 126p. A. Hamilton, Maori Art, New Zealand Institute, Wellington, 1901.

24. Anne Salmond, Two Worlds - First Meetings Between Maori and Europeans 1642-1772, Viking, Auckland, 1991, 477p.

25. Collins, op cit.

26. Wellington, op cit.

27. William Foster, Voyage Around the World, London, 1773.

28. Marion, op cit.

29. Minson, op cit., 42-3.

30. Earle, op cit., 1832.

31. Westmacott, op cit.

32. P. Pierce, ‘Honi Heke: The Maori as Aboriginal Hero in Australian Poetry', Australian Literary Studies, 16(1), May 1993, 105-10.

33. James Belich, The New Zealand Wars and the Victorian Interpretation of Racial Conflict, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1986.

34. Ernst Dieffenbach, Travels in New Zealand, 2 volumes, John Murray, London, 1843.

35. Skinner, op cit., cat. no. 110.

36. Minson, op cit., 54. Barraud, op cit.

37. Blakeley, op cit.

38. Minson, op cit, 42-3.

39. Roger Blackley, ‘The Portraits of Joseph Merrett', Art New Zealand, 56, Spring 1990, 82-5, 111.


All images are from the National Library of Australia's Picture Australia database - In the compilation of this article I would like to acknowledge the assistance of Dr. Joseph Davis of Thirroul, Ken Scadden of Wellington, Sascha Nolden of Auckland, and librarians from the National Library of Australia, Canberra, and the Turnbull Library, Wellington.

Life & Times | Art - Lithographs | Art - Sketchbooks |
Mauritius & South Africa 1825-8 | South America 1851/8 | New Zealand 1840

Article originally written during 2005 and subsequently published in Art New Zealand, Winter 2006. This website was last updated: 25 August 2016. Return to Michael Organ's Home Page. Any comments, corrections, or additions to this site are most welcome.