Augustus Earle

War Speech

War Speech by Augustus Earle

Artwork Detail

A freelance travel artist whose career unfolded in England, USA, Brazil and Australasia, Augustus Earle was the first European artist to live for a period in New Zealand. From November 1827 to April 1828 he horrified the missionaries stationed at the Bay of Islands by befriending and living with his pagan Māori hosts at Kororareka, an experience he immortalised in A Narrative of a Nine Months' Residence in New Zealand, published in 1832. It was a turbulent time, when the musket-armed Ngāpuhi were wreaking terror on their tribal enemies to the south. In War Speech Earle depicts the ceremonial speeches attending the departure of such an expedition - the warriors with their muskets and cartridge boxes, and the ornately carved waka prepared for the journey. In the standing pair to the right Earle contrasts the deadly musket with the traditional taiaha, or fighting staff, and reveals the puhoro, or tattooed buttocks, that were the Mäori warrior's proudest adornment. The Narrative reveals Earle's delight in the Māori propensity for displays of the naked male physique, especially in the haka or war dance, which the censorious missionaries found so horrifying. War Speech is the ninth plate from Sketches Illustrative of the Native Inhabitants and Islands of New Zealand, a portfolio of ten lithographs published in 1838 by the London-based New Zealand Association, which was making plans for British settlement. (from The Guide, 2001)

War Speech
Augustus Earle
Production date
369 x 550 x 17 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, The Ilene and Laurence Dakin Bequest, purchased 1998
Accession no
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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