Story: Ideas in New Zealand

'The last of the cannibals: Tumai Tawhiti'

'The last of the cannibals: Tumai Tawhiti'

Charles Goldie titled his 1913 portrait of Tumai Tawhiti 'The last of the cannibals', reflecting the widespread view among Pākehā at the start of the 20th century that Māori were a 'dying race'. The evidence of declining Māori population was reinforced by Darwinian ideas about the ‘survival of the fittest’ to assert that the stronger Anglo-Saxon race was destined to outcompete less fit races such as Māori. 

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Aigantighe Art Gallery
Oil on canvas by Charles Goldie

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How to cite this page:

Jock Phillips, 'Ideas in New Zealand - Darwinism and anthropology', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 26 February 2020)

Story by Jock Phillips, published 22 Oct 2014