July 01, 2020
Australian Library houses oldest photo of Māori
The earliest photograph of a Māori has been identified as a film adaptation gets under way of a novel about the life of Hemi Pomara.
Taika Waititi’s production company Piki Films has signed up writers for a feature film based on Tina Makareti’s novel The Imaginary Lives of James Pōneke, about a Māori boy exhibited as a living curiosity in Victorian London.
Now Australian National University art historians Elisa Decourcy and Martyn Jolly say they have found a previously unattributed photograph of Pomara in the National Library of Australia.
They say it was taken in London in 1846, probably by the pioneering London-based French daguerreotypist Antoine Claudet.
Pomara was taken as a child from Rekohu-Chatham island in the early 1840s by a British whaler and taken to Sydney.
In 1844 British artist George French Angas took guardianship of him and took him to England in 1846.
Pomara returned to Auckland in 1847.
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