This 1899 painting depicts a scene on the morning of 8 March 1840, between Petone and Matiu (Somes Island). Several ships (including the Tory, Adelaide and Glenbervie) deliver a grand salute, thrilling a crowd that has gathered on Petone beach. The local leaders Te Wharepōuri, Tuarau, and Te Puni launched three war canoes and began racing each other around the fleet. Te Puni had invited Colonel William Wakefield aboard his canoe (he is seated second from the rear, holding his hat). According to Louis Ward in his book Early Wellington (1929), the paddlers ‘shouted their war song most vigorously as they passed close to each astonished poop-load of passengers’. Te Puni returned to the beach first.
Produced on the eve of Wellington’s 60th anniversary, the painting celebrates Pākehā settlement. While Māori are featured in the foreground, the scene is dominated by the ships of the colonists. Few Māori were living in Wellington at the time the painting was made.
Te whakamahi i tēnei tūemi
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.