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Royal Commonwealth Society : Te Mutu, with his sons Patuone and Te Kuri

Angas, George French (1822-1886)

Royal Commonwealth Society

<p style='text-align: justify;'>George French Angas (1822-1886) had trained as an artist and developed an interest in natural history. Angas’s father held significant financial assets in South Australia and while visiting it in 1844, he sailed to New Zealand, and travelled within the recently established colony. Angas met a number of leading Maori, who sat for portraits, and he completed many pencil drawings and watercolours of Maori dress, artefacts, dwellings and culture. In 1847 he published ‘The New Zealanders illustrated’, which contained hand-coloured lithographic plates, the majority from his own work. The volume is a significant early source for understanding traditional Maori way of life.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'> ‘Te Mutu is the Chief of the Ihutai, a subdivision of the great tribe of the Nga Puis, residing near Hokianga River, in the west coast of the northern portion of the Island… Te Mutu is represented wearing a rich mat, called Tahi uru, made of dog's hair, fastened into a fabric of the finest flax, and beneath it is another, dyed black, and called wahinau, which is ornamented at the border with crimson wool; this latter is very beautiful and scarce. In his hand is his Meri poonamu, or weapon of greenstone, which is an article always possessed by a chief, and more highly prized than any other portion of his property. Many of the chiefs of the interior have very large meris, of the finest jade or greenstone, which are passed from father to son, and invested with an almost sacred value. The eldest son wears a Kaitaka mat of silk-like flax; and the younger one is wrapped in a kokahu, dyed black by the juice of the hinau; this garment is generally worn in the winter, or during wet weather, being impervious to the rain, which runs off it as from the thatched roof of a house.’</p>

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