Albin Martin

The death of William Thompson, the King-maker

The death of William Thompson, the King-maker by Albin Martin

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Born Tarapipipi Te Waharoa (?-1866), the Ngāti Haua leader was given the baptismal name Wiremu Tamihana (William Thompson) in 1839. His role in the establishment of the King movement in 1859 earned him the title from Pākehā of ‘Kingmaker’. He sought to resolve conflict through mediation and negotiation with Government, and is described by one biographer as “a man of peace forced into war.”

Tamihana leased land at Matamata to Josiah Clifton Firth, and the colonist acquired 55,000 acres there upon his death. Firth commissioned this painting to memorialise his claim to the land depicted, telling the Daily Southern Cross that he had been at Tamihana’s deathbed. According to him, the dying Tamihana was supposed to have said “Remain here after I am gone – ake ake (for ever)”. (Picturing History, 2009)

Title
The death of William Thompson, the King-maker
Artist/creator
Production date
1876
Medium
oil on canvas
Dimensions
793 x 957 x 70 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr H C Firth, 1974
Accession no
1974/9
Copyright
No known copyright restrictions
Department
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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