James McDonald

Floor Mat - Takapau, made by Mrs. Pokai

Floor Mat - Takapau, made by Mrs. Pokai by James McDonald

Artwork Detail

Between 1919 and 1923 as cinematographer for the Dominion Museum in Wellington, James McDonald documented Mäori gatherings in various parts of New Zealand. Jonathan Dennis describes the films he made as 'the most extensive record of their kind of traditional Mäori life and activities from this time. Amounting to just under two hours in length, they are taonga, cultural treasures of extraordinary beauty and importance'. Accompanied by the museum's ethnologist, Elsdon Best, and Johannes Andersen of the Alexander Turnbull Library, McDonald filmed actual events and specially-staged demonstrations, took many still photographs and made cylinder recordings of songs and speeches. His record of the Gisborne 'Hui Aroha' to welcome home the Mäori Battalion in 1919 is the earliest known film of Mäori people to be made in New Zealand. This photograph was taken at a gathering of the tribes in Rotorua to welcome the Prince of Wales. In 1926 McDonald moved to Tokaanu and helped found Te Tüwharetoa School of Mäori Arts and Crafts, an attempt to revive traditional arts in danger of being lost. The School received no government support but his commitment was acknowledged and welcomed by Mäori. As a photographer and film-maker James McDonald made an invaluable contribution to the cultural history of New Zealand. (from The Guide, 2001)

Floor Mat - Takapau, made by Mrs. Pokai
James McDonald
Production date
black and white photograph, reprint
157 x 115 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1978
Accession no
Other ID
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

To find out which artworks are available for print requests and reproduction please enquire here. This service only applies to select artworks in the Gallery's collection.

Explore Further