Kennett Watkins’s painting shows the phantom canoe seen on Lake Tarawera on 31 May 1886. Although the picture uses clouds and moonlight to create a dramatic atmosphere, the phantom waka taua (war canoe) was actually seen in broad daylight by Pākehā tourists and Māori including the famous Guide Sophia. The vision was thought to be a harbinger of doom, and within 10 days Mt Tarawera erupted, killing many and devastating tourism in the area.
Using this item
Auckland Art Gallery – Toi o Tāmaki
Oil on canvas by Kennett Watkins
Permission of Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki must be obtained before any re-use of this image.