Alfred Burton

Our Canoe and Crew, Ranana, Wanganui River

Our Canoe and Crew, Ranana, Wanganui River by Alfred Burton

Artwork Detail

Alfred Burton travelled more extensively than any other nineteenth-century photographer in New Zealand. The availability in the mid-1880s of the dry-plate negative allowed him to journey throughout New Zealand and the Pacific in search of views which he could later market and sell. In May and June of 1885 he made an arduous journey into the King Country, which resulted in over 230 photographs, from which he selected 150 images to be published and advertised in a series which he called The Mäori at Home. The accompanying diary, Through the King Country with the camera: A Photographer's Diary, records the difficulties of his expedition into an area that had been off-limits to Päkehä for many years. The Mäori at Home is now understood to be the first internationally-important photo-essay to have been made of Mäori in New Zealand, and led to Burton becoming a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. The people of the Whanganui River called Burton he tangata whakaähua (the man who makes likenesses), and travelling as he did by waka, there was no opportunity to reshoot his negatives. Burton reached Ränana (London) on 8 May, a few hours after exposing this photograph near Moutoa, an island that had been the site of a battle between the Hauhau and the Ngäti Hau people of Hiruhärama (Jerusalem). (from The Guide, 2001)

Our Canoe and Crew, Ranana, Wanganui River
Alfred Burton
Production date
gelatin silver print, sepia toned
144 x 204 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1999
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

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