Making the Website

The creation of Whakamīharo Lindauer Online is a long and rich story in itself. It involved both institutional commitment and the support and enthusiasm of the wider community.

In 2003 the Lindauer Art Gallery Māori Visitors Book was rediscovered in the archives of the Auckland Art Gallery's E.H. McCormick Research Library.  At the time, iwi consultants Vapi Kupenga and Mere Lodge were seeking permission from descendants to make the portraits of Māori by Goldie and Lindauer available on the Gallery's new website. Vapi Kupenga's transcription by iwi of the comments in the Visitors' Book was sent to descendants, and iwi groups were invited to come to the Gallery to view the Book. It was later photographed and a facsimile made for researchers to use, while the original was put on display in the Gallery. An article detailing the work of Vapi Kupenga and Mere Lodge was published in Gallery News in 2004.

The often-emotional response of descendants to the Visitors' Book, and the enthusiasm shown by researchers signalled the need for it to be more widely accessible.

In November 2006, Catherine Hammond, Research Librarian, sent out a call to all Auckland Art Gallery staff asking whether they would like to be involved in a project to make a website featuring the Māori portraits of Gottfried Lindauer and the recently re-discovered visitors' book that accompanied them when they were first painted.

 Predominantly in te reo, visitors wrote in this book their responses upon seeing the portraits of their ancestors painted by Lindauer.

Five of us were keen to participate: Catherine, Ngahiraka Mason, Caroline McBride, Sarah Eades, John McIver and, the then Registrar, David Reeves.  After gaining the approval and support of the Gallery's Management Team, Ngahiraka and Catherine submitted an initial proposal to the Department of Internal Affairs' Community Partnership Fund, which was offering grants under its Digital Strategy initiative.

We were asked to submit a full proposal, which was accepted, and Catherine and Ngahiraka then completed the much more rigorous formal application for funding, which involved securing letters of support and outlining the aims, management, budget and timeline for the project.

We invited Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori - The Māori Language Commission to partner us by translating the Maori Visitors' Book.  In addition, we were keen to promote the portraits, which now form part of the Gallery's Partridge Collection, and to invite other public institutions to contribute their portraits to the site.

In mid-2007, we learnt that our full application had been successful and by April 2008, the funding agreement had been signed.  The Auckland Art Gallery matched in kind the sum given by the Department, and Te Taura Whiri was formally made our Project partner.

Our first administrative task was to appoint a steering group.  The Gallery's Manager, Collections and Exhibitions Services, Catherine Lomas; Mere Lodge, iwi consultant; and Rod Moody, Auckland City ITC consultant have performed this role throughout the Project guiding the Team and offering suggestions and encouragement as well as practical help.

Sarah Eades and Caroline McBride jointly applied for the role of Project Manager and held this day-a-week position from July 2008 until March 2010.

Te Taura Whiri began the task of transcribing and translating the more than 300 page Visitors' Book, which Gallery staff had conserved and digitally photographed.

The Team developed protocols for ourselves and as a guide for our contributing museum partners on digital photography and iwi consultation.

As with the Gallery's website, we sought iwi permission from the descendants of the portrait sitters, to include images on this site.  Prior to the commencement of the Project, we were asked to show evidence of community support in this way and we have continued to engage in this process. Mere has worked tirelessly, explaining the project and reassuring descendants that this is an educational and not a commercial site.

Ngahiraka and Caroline carried out research at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington and were able to unearth many documents relating to 'our' sitters.  We have also mined the Turnbull's wonderful collection of images to illustrate our sitter texts and the related essays that we commissioned from interested academics and professionals.

Māori portraits by Lindauer began to be submitted by other museums.  To date we have received contributions from The Suter; the National Library of Australia; the Sarjeant Gallery; Christchurch Art Gallery and Te Papa Tongarewa.

With the content coming together well, we now sought a website company.  After due process and keen competition, in July 2009, we engaged Terabyte as our designers.

Sarah was inspired and moved by the filmed interviews of the Doig River people of Canada and suggested that we might try something similar.  Ngahiraka, Mere and young filmmaker, Dennis Gedye, have worked with a number of the sitters' descendants to produce the interviews you can now access on the site.

Te Haumihiata Mason and Hohepa MacDougall presented the Team with the translated Visitors' Book giving us even more than we had asked for so that now we have both a faithful transcription of the words as written in te reo but also a translation into the reo of today.

For the last year we have continued to work on the Project: holding fortnightly meetings; submitting reports to our funders; giving presentations; meeting with descendants; working with a talented intern on the historic Partridge correspondence; editing and indexing the Visitors' Book and collaborating with Terabyte to present the website as you now see it.  We hope that by providing a variety of means, users will contribute their stories, comments and feedback.  Our primary aim has been to provide a site for the community and we hope that we have achieved this.


Caroline McBride, Research Librarian, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Tāia tēnei whārangi | Print this page
Etahi atu whakaahua
  • Whakaahua Mūori | Mūori Portraits

    View the portraits of Māori painted by Gottfried Lindauer in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Search for specific portraits by iwi or keyword and view the painting in detail through the zoom viewer.

  • Tangata pūkenga | The Artist

    Learn about Gottfried Lindauer, one of the best-known painters of Māori portraits. Read about his painting techniques, why the works were painted, and the role of his patron Henry Partridge.

  • Documentary series | Behind the Brush

    The Māori Television series Behind the Brush brings alive the stories of descendants and to uncover the lives of the artist, the patron and tupuna Māori.

  • Pukapuka manuhiri | Visitors Book

    Turn the pages, view the hundreds of comments and signatures, read the transcription and translation, and search by name and place. A digitisation of an historical legacy.