Dressed in their best, Mere Cowan (née Whakamairu) and her husband Alexander, from the Wairarapa area, sit for their portrait in 1870 with their new baby, Pita (or Peter). It was a time when Māori were declining in numbers and were widely expected to disappear altogether. Little Pita Cowan therefore represents a way for Māori to survive and, eventually, increase their numbers again.
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