Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thames (NZ): Early Postcards of local Maori

In the early photographs of Thames during the post goldfield invasion, there are few named photographs of the local iwi. The people who owned the land and had settled in the district for hundreds of years just do not feature in the early photographic records of miners, shopkeepers and local groups. The one exception being the Taipari family.

What we do have though is a large number of unnamed portraits taken by the Foy Bros of Pollen Street Thames. Sadly these are not named. These Maori postcards were very popular in the late 19th Century, in particular to send back to England to family back at home.

The Foy Bros weren't the only photographers in Thames who sold postcards that included Maori portraits. The Frith Portrait rooms next to Dr Kilgours in Pollen Street, in 1876 had a wide selection for sale.

An example of a Foy Bros specimen sheet available for viewing at the online Te Papa Collection, Wellington. Others are available via the Alexander Turnbull Collection. On the left is Tamati Waka Te Puhi and on the right Rena Punehu. 

Te Puhi lived at Manaia, and was active in movements to try and protect land ownership of the Ngati Maru tribe. "Te Puhi was active in protecting his tribe's land interests at Poihakena (Port Jackson was south west of Colville) on the western tip of the Coromandel Peninsula. In 1869 Te Puhi protested the purchase of the Hauraki foreshore by the Crown who wanted it as an endowment for Thames. Te Puhi claimed that Ngāti Maru had not extinguished  title to any of the foreshore." Source: Lindauer on line
There are many others that haven't been identified. If you have copies of any, The Treasury always welcomes donations of images and any information you have on those people in the photograph. Who are they? What iwi did they belong to? Any descendants?