Author(s): Roger Blackley
Galleries of Maoriland introduces us to the many ways in which European colonists to New Zealand (called Pakeha by the indigenous Maori) discovered, created, propagated and romanticised the Maori world at the turn of the century summed up in a popular nickname describing New Zealand; Maoriland. It could be seen in the paintings of Lindauer and Goldie; among artists, patrons, collectors and audiences; inside the Polynesian Society and the Dominion Museum; among stolen artefacts and fantastical accounts of the Maori past. The culture of Maoriland was a colonists creation. But Galleries of Maoriland shows that Maori were not merely passive victims: they too had a stake in this process of romanticisation. What, this book asks, were some of the Maori purposes that were served by curio displays, portrait collections, and the wider ethnological culture? Why did the idealisation of an ancient Maori world, which obsessed ethnological inquirers and artists alike, appeal also to Maori? Who precisely were the Maori participants in this culture, and what were their motives? Galleries of Maoriland looks at Maori prehistory in European art; the enthusiasm of settlers and Maori for portraiture and recreations of ancient life; the trade in Maori curios; and the international exhibition of this colonial culture. By illuminating New Zealand's artistic and ethnographic economy at the turn of the twentieth century, this book provides a new understanding of our art and our culture.