Story: Anti-racism and Treaty of Waitangi activism

Picturing a 'New Zealand savage'

Picturing a 'New Zealand savage'

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Māori people appeared both fascinating and threatening to the first Europeans to see them. Illustrations of Māori were popular in Europe. Reproductions often displayed racial attitudes that the original artists did not intend. This drawing by the French artist Jean Piron (left), shows a young Māori man he saw near Cape Rēinga in 1793. In 1800 a book was published with a version of this image redrawn to show a young Māori woman. A female with feathered earrings would have been more interesting to many readers than Piron's original image.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PUBL-0057-25 (left); PUBL-0056-25 (right)
Engraving by Piron

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Robert Consedine, 'Anti-racism and Treaty of Waitangi activism - Early attitudes and anti-racism', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/26659/picturing-a-new-zealand-savage (accessed 15 August 2020)

Story by Robert Consedine, published 5 May 2011, reviewed & revised 28 May 2018