Story: Women’s health

Engraving of a Māori woman

Engraving of a Māori woman

Joseph Banks, an English aristocrat and botanist who travelled on Cook’s first voyage, arriving in New Zealand in 1769, wrote this description of Māori women: ‘The women without being at all delicate in their outward appearance are rather smaller than Europaean women, but have a peculiar softness of Voice which never fails to distinguish them from the men tho both are dressd exactly alike. They are like those of the fair sex that I have seen in other countries, more lively, airy and laughter loving than the men and have more volatile spirits.' (Joseph Banks Journal, vol. 2, p. 175, http://southseas.nla.gov.au/journals/banks_remarks/205.html (last accessed 3 May 2011))

This 1783 engraving of a ‘Femme de la Nouvelle Zelande’ (woman of New Zealand) was probably based on drawings done by an unknown artist travelling with French navigator Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, who visited New Zealand in 1772.


Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: PUBL-0150-005

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:

Megan Cook, 'Women’s health - Māori women’s health, pre-colonial times to 1940s', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/31465/engraving-of-a-maori-woman (accessed 14 November 2019)

Story by Megan Cook, published 5 May 2011