Josiah Martin

Fusipala, wife of Fakua

Fusipala, wife of Fakua by Josiah Martin

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By the early 1900s, Josiah Martin was well known for the excellence of his Mäori and Pacific photographs. While basing his photography business in Auckland for over 30 years, he had travelled extensively throughout New Zealand and the Pacific, encouraged by the international response that Alfred Burton had gained for his photographs in the 1880s. He determined to improve on the work of his competitor from Dunedin by showing more attention to how Pacific people dressed, worked and took their leisure. Martin's Tongan portraits are among the finest Pacific portraits from the ninteenth century. Fusipala was of high Tongan rank, the daughter of Tävita'Unga, son of Tupou I (also known as Täufa'ähau). She had married her cousin, Tui'ipelehake Fatafehi, in 1870, and their son Tui'ipelehake Taufa'ähau became Tupou II in 1893. Up until her death in September 1889, Fusipala was the senior matrilineal embodiment of the Tongan royal lineage of Tui'ipelehake. Although this was the first time that she had met a photographer, Fusipala is at ease being photographed sitting outside in her garden at Nukunuku on the island of Tongatapu. As a Christian convert to the Wesleyan Mission, she wears the already standard blouse of her status. Her crimped black tapa and fine woven pandanus skirt further affirm her rank. By allowing his sitters to pose naturally, Martin was able to represent Mäori and Pacific people with respect and distinction. (from The Guide, 2001)

Title
Fusipala, wife of Fakua
Artist/creator
Production date
circa 1885
Medium
gelatin silver print
Dimensions
216 x 151 mm
Inscription
pencil "Fusipala, wife of Fakua"
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1998
Accession no
1998/24/1
Copyright
Copying restrictions apply
Department
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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