Story: Ideas about Māori origins

‘Les Sauvages de la mer Pacifique’ (1804–1805)

‘Les Sauvages de la mer  Pacifique’ (1804–1805)

This is a 1.8-metre section of a long piece of wallpaper. It featured views of Pacific history based on the accounts of European explorers from the 18th century. This section illustrates a wrestling match in Tongatapu, Tonga. The Tongan king is supposedly pictured in this scene under a banana tree (on the left) with one of his favourite wives. The Hellenic costumes and wrestling poses reflect the European preoccupation with ancient Greece, rather than accurately depicting Pacific peoples.

Using this item

Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki, Mackelvie Trust Collection
Woodblock and gouache on paper by Joseph Dufour & Co and Jean Charvet

Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

K. R. Howe, 'Ideas about Māori origins - 1770s–1840s: early ideas', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 June 2022)

Story by K. R. Howe, published 8 Feb 2005