McFarlane & Erskine (Lithographer), McGready, Thomson & Niven (Publisher)

Taking a Maori Redoubt

Taking a Maori Redoubt by McFarlane & Erskine, McGready, Thomson & Niven

Artwork Detail

This print seemingly gives an eyewitness account of the New Zealand Wars, yet it was printed in 1879 with no reference to the specific battle it records. Rather, it was included in Australian writer, David Blair’s History of Australasia. Blair claimed in the preface that his book was ‘the first complete history of Australasia that has ever been given to the world’ and it is described elsewhere as ‘pioneering’. Sections are devoted to each of the regions covered, and it includes 24 illustrations. The ‘Māori Wars’ dominates the New Zealand section within the book. Taking a Māori Redoubt is one of only two New Zealand plates – the other is a map.

The image appears to be based on an engraving from the Illustrated London News titled ‘The War in New Zealand: The 57th Regiment Taking a Māori Redoubt on the Katikara River, Taranaki’ which appeared on 29 August 1863. Elsewhere this engraving has been attributed to H G Robley, although as he did not arrive in New Zealand until January 1864 this is not possible. The illustration records an event in June 1863 when colonial forces attacked Māori fortifications near the Katikara River. It depicts the moment the forces charged, before ultimately taking the redoubt.

While compositionally Taking a Māori Redoubt draws on this engraving, the human drama has been heightened by giving greater prominence to the hand to hand combat in the foreground. Both Māori and European soldiers are shown as aggressors in the act of fighting. In the middleground a large number of soldiers storm the fortifications, from which a cloud of smoke rises. To the left large numbers flee into the bush.

Taking a Maori Redoubt
McFarlane & Erskine, McGready, Thomson & Niven
Production date
237 x 162 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 2010
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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