The oldest surviving photograph of a Maori person has been discovered in the national library of Australia, a historical “scoop” being lauded on both sides of the Tasman Sea.
Hemi Pomara was kidnapped from his home on the Chatham Islands — a group of small islands about 800km east of New Zealand — in the early 1840s by British traders, after his family members were slaughtered by a rival Maori tribe.
Pomara was sent to school in Australia, before being transported to London and displayed as a “native” of the colonies before the royal family, at the British and Foreign Institution and at the Egyptian Hall, where he was a living display.
Previously, the first visual record of Pomara was a faded watercolor, but Australian National University (ANU) researchers have found a photograph of the young Maori man posing in his korowai, or cloak, in London in 1846.
Pomara’s story of survival has inspired generations of Maori writers and filmmakers, including Oscar-winning Taika Waititi, who plans to adapt Pomara’s tale for the big screen.
Writing in The Conversation, the ANU researchers said that the photograph was “almost certainly” made by Antoine Claudet, one of the most important figures in the history of early photography.
Before their discovery, the photograph was unattributed and only partially cataloged in the National Library of Australia.
Artist Martyn Jolly and art historian Elisa deCourcy, both of Australian National University, are convinced that the photograph is Claudet’s as “very few practitioners outside Claudet’s studio would have tinted daguerreotypes to this level of realism during photography’s first decade.”
“All the evidence now suggests the image is not only the oldest surviving photograph of Hemi, but also most probably the oldest surviving photographic portrait of any Maori person,” they said.
A portrait of Caroline and Sarah Barrett taken in about 1853 was previously thought to be the oldest image of a Maori person.
According to Jolly and DeCourcy, the daguerreotype of Pomara was purchased in the 1960s by the Australian photo historian Eric Keast Burke and found its way into the archives.
“Unusually for photographic portraits of this period, Hemi is shown standing full-length, allowing him to model all the features of his korowai,” the researchers wrote. “He poses amidst the accoutrements of a metropolitan portrait studio, but the horizontal line running across the middle of the portrait suggests the daguerreotype was taken against a paneled wall rather than a studio backdrop, possibly at the Royal Society meeting [in London].”
Pomara’s historical record goes cold after his return to New Zealand in 1947, although it is “possible” he returned to London as a husband and father, the researchers said.
“Much of Hemi’s story still evades official colonial records,” the researchers wrote. “As Taika Waititi’s film project suggests, the next layer of interpretation must be driven by indigenous voices.”
TARNISHED LEGACY: Woodrow Wilson served as the university’s president before becoming the US’ 28th leader, but his racism was ‘significant and consequential’ Princeton University is removing former US president Woodrow Wilson’s name from its public policy school and one of its residential colleges after trustees concluded that the 28th president’s “racist thinking and policies” made him “an inappropriate namesake.” The Ivy League school’s trustees made the decision on Friday, according to a statement on Saturday. It comes at a time of widespread rethinking of the US’ racial legacy. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, energized by a series of high-profile deaths of black Americans, has resulted in the removal of Confederate monuments, flags and symbols of racism across the US. Deleting Wilson’s name at Princeton
‘FULLY ENCLOSED’: Residents of Anxin County would be confined to their homes and would only be allowed out once a day to buy necessities such as food and medicine China yesterday imposed a strict lockdown on nearly half a million people near the capital to contain a fresh COVID-19 cluster as authorities warned the outbreak was still “severe and complicated.” After China largely brought the virus under control, hundreds have been infected in Beijing and cases have emerged in Hebei Province. Health officials said that Anxin County — about 150km from Beijing — would be “fully enclosed and controlled,” the same strict measures imposed at the height of the pandemic in the city of Wuhan earlier this year. Only one person from each family would be allowed to go out once a
Japan said it opposed changes to the G7 nations as it pushed back against a reform plan by US President Donald Trump that would have rival South Korea this year join in an expanded meeting. Tokyo has told the US it stands against South Korea’s participation on the grounds of differences in policy on China and North Korea, Kyodo News reported this weekend, citing more than one source related to Japanese and US diplomacy. Japan also wants to maintain its status as the only Asian country in the group, the news agency added. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga yesterday told reporters that
The onset of summer has sparked a rise in incidents of “mask rage” in South Korea as more hot and bothered commuters either refuse to wear face coverings or leave parts of their faces exposed. In South Korea, Japan and other countries in East Asia, widespread mask wearing has been cited as one possible explanation for the region’s relative success in bringing the COVID-19 pandemic under control. South Korea, one of the first countries outside China to be affected by the virus, flattened the coronavirus curve in April, although it is now struggling with dozens of daily cases, mainly in and around