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Royal Commonwealth Society : Entrance to a dwelling-house at Raroera Pah

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;'>‘Some of the finest Maori works of art still extant, are to be met with in the ruined and deserted Pah of Raroera, about four miles beyond Otawhao, near the River Waipa. In one of the former plates was given a representation of the elaborately carved mausoleum erected in this Pah by the great chief Te Wherowhero, above the remains of his favourite daughter; not many yards from that tomb is the house which forms the subject of the present illustration; differing from the usual style of Maori architecture, with the pointed gable roof, the entrance to this building displays the more simple form of porch belonging to the dwellings of some of the inhabitants of the earliest ages, and its close affinity to many of the temples of Egypt is at once obvious: there is a nearer relation between the architecture of this Maori dwelling-house, and that of the temple of the Serpent Knuphis in Upper Egypt, or the ancient temple of Taetfa, than one might at first be disposed to imagine; but the singular resemblance the works of these people bear to those both of Egypt and Mexico, is a fact to be accounted for by theory alone.’</p>

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