Story: Ideas about Māori origins

Depicting the arrival of Māori

Depicting the arrival of Māori

Based on Theodore Géricault's famous ‘The raft of the Medusa’, which depicts the terror of a shipwreck, this is one of New Zealand’s best-known historical paintings. It was painted by Louis J. Steele and Charles Goldie in 1898. Entitled ‘The arrival of the Maoris in New Zealand’, it has been criticised for its portrayal of Māori as starving gaunt figures rather than navigators on deliberate voyages of exploration, as they are in Māori tradition. Although there is only one canoe visible, the painting has probably done more than any other image to popularise the myth of a great fleet landing in New Zealand.

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Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki
Oil painting by Charles Goldie and Louis J. Steele

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 - 1880s–1970s: Moriori origins; the Great Fleet', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 16 August 2022)

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