Louis John Steele (Artist), Charles F Goldie (Artist)

Arrival of the Maoris in New Zealand

Arrival of the Maoris in New Zealand by Louis John Steele, Charles F Goldie

Artwork Detail

Probably the best-known history painting ever produced in New Zealand, Arrival caused a sensation when first exhibited in 1899. Based directly on Theodore Géricault's famous Raft of the Medusa (known to both artists from their studies in Paris), the image is essentially a romantic fabrication. It relies on nineteenth century European conventions for representing miraculous survivals at sea rather than on traditional accounts of the Māori immigration voyages. Although very little was, and still is, known of the actual circumstances of such journeys, the artists have emphasised the imagined physical suffering experienced en route. Their conception of the migration vessel is in terms of the ornately-carved waka taua developed after settlement in Aotearoa New Zealand, where massive trees such as kauri and totara allowed the construction of seamless, single-hulled canoes. Despite inaccuracies apparent today, Arrival was a work highly acclaimed in its time. It is likely that the subject struck a chord with colonists, who recognised in the image of people journeying in search of a new land and a new life, fears and aspirations that paralleled their own in embarking for the Antipodes. It was also the painting that launched Goldie's career in Auckland, and he went on to specialise in portraits of Māori. (from The Guide, 2001)

Arrival of the Maoris in New Zealand
Louis John Steele, Charles F Goldie
Production date
oil on canvas
1758 x 2825 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of the late George and Helen Boyd, 1899
Accession no
Other ID
0/64 Old Accession Number
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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