Saint Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland

Saint Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland by Meadows

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This panel is believed to be the oldest known European carving made in New Zealand. It is the work of a runaway sailor, Meadows, and was carved for a Maori snake cult called Nakahi, and decorated their church altar. During Hone Heke’s Rebellion, British troops burned down the church but the carving was carried off shortly before their arrival.

One of the legends about Saint Patrick (5th century) states that he drove the snakes of Ireland into the sea to their destruction. The cult believed that Saint Patrick must have also visited Aotearoa as there are no land snakes here.

Saint Patrick driving the snakes out of Ireland
Production date
circa 1838
241 x 292 x 38 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1975
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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