The role of a researcher is to listen, observe and be flexible at all times. The purpose of research is to seek, unfold and piece together parts of a story missing from your version or account.
Fig. 1 Gottfried Lindauer, Ana Rupene and child, 1878,
oil on canvas, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Mr H E
Every new piece of information may reveal a connection to
another part of the research puzzle. Research is an activity that
requires 'seeking' and a will to find! The focus of this essay is
on Ana Rupene of Ngāti Maru.
The portrait of Ana Rupene and child (Fig. 1) has an
intriguing back-story. Over time, the 1878 painting has accrued
importance in the Auckland Art Gallery's family of Lindauer
portraits for which we have guardianship. The number of Ana
Rupene and child portraits in existence is a mystery, although
it has been estimated Lindauer created up to 30 versions.1
Fig. 2 St Louis World's Fair showing the Palaces in
which were housed the various countries' pavilions.
The Gallery's version of Ana Rupene and child won a
gold medal when displayed at the Saint Louis World's Fair of 1904
(Fig. 2) with the medal being conferred on Lindauer arts patron
Henry Partridge,2 rather than
Partridge ran a gold mining business in Thames where he operated
a 'crushing plant' to extract gold from the land. By 1873, he had
made enough money to move his wife and children to Auckland to open
a shop and start his business, H.E. Partridge & Co., selling
tobacco with a secondary trade in sporting goods.3
The source image for the many versions of Ana Rupene and
child is a Foy Brothers photograph made in their Thames studio
sometime between 1871 and 1878.4 Studio portraits of Māori were
often produced as 'family collections' of people from a region such
as those ancestors from Pare Hauraki or the Thames region. The Foy
Bros photographic portraits of Ana Rupene, Pare Watene, Hori
Ngakapa and Tamati Waka Te Puhi (Figs 3,4,5,6) from Foy form the
basis for the portraits painted by Lindauer in 1878. Other
Hauraki tipuna including Mere Kuru Te Kati, Taraia Ngakuti Te
Taumuhia, Tukukino and Horeta Te Taniwha (Figs 7,8,9,10) were
painted by Lindauer, but were not photographed by the Foy Bros.
Fig. 3 Ana Rupene and Child, carte de visite, Foy
Bros., private collection
The Foy Bros photographs were reproduced as cartes de visite5 or cabinet card6 'products' which started the
worldwide distribution of Ana Rupene's image.7 Ironically, descendants of the
Foy Bros have very few photographs or knowledge of the studio
practice of their ancestors James Joseph Foy and Joseph Michael
Foy. They have some photographs of tipuna Māori, but no portraits
of their great grandparents.
At the end of the nineteenth century, the painting Ana
Rupene and child was already a popular portrait in the public
domain and the private sector. Into the first decade of the
twenty-first century, the painting has a renewed life as a
'destination painting' for Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki. Yet
descendants of Ana Rupene of Ngāti Maru only came to know of their
painted portrait as recent as the 1960s and again into the 1980s8 through reproduction postcards
celebrating the artistic practice of Lindauer.
An unobservable conundrum
Conundrums are not always observable; but for the pathways
provided by descendants that help reconstruct pieces of a puzzle to
an otherwise barely visible account. Ana Rupene's whānau were
not aware of or informed of the number of painted portraits made of
their kuia by Lindauer. The point here is not to make judgements
about right or wrong practices of colonial painters and
photographers, rather to acknowledge the priorities and realities
of another time. Memories from descendants provide contextual
and intimate kōrero to the legend of Ana Rupene and
child . Each telling recounts remembered histories and
profoundly personal accounts of 'access' to the image of Ana.
Pare Hauraki elder and iwi mangai Toko Renata Te Taniwha II gives
this account of Ana from his branch of the Renata whānau.
Ana is remembered by the whānau as 'Werohia' meaning to challenge.
It is said she would wave a stick to instruct children on the
virtues of good manners as they helped themselves by 'poking,
shaking and prodding' her famed oranges from an orange tree located
on the boundary of the whānau homestead. The name Werohia has
survived down the generations.
To the Toko Renata whānau, Ana is 'Ana Reupene Whetuki' married
to Reupene Whetuki, a Ngāti Maru rangatira.9 The first time Toko recalls
seeing the image of his kuia was in a local hardware store in
downtown Thames in the 1960s. Ana's image was used as a 'branding'
tool to sell 'straw-brooms'. Her portrait was attached to the
Toko's story is a poignant telling. The local storeowner had a
framed reproduction of the Gallery's Ana Rupene and child
painting and Toko and his wife Bonney approached the owner
explaining they were descendants and asking to purchase the print.
An amount was agreed on and the Renata whānau paid for the
reproduction in instalments until their financial obligation was
met. This was the first time that Toko's branch of the family had
access to Ana Rupene's image since the portrait was painted in
1878. Toko's elderly father was joyfully stunned to see his 'mum'
returned to the whānau and the homecoming of the image to the
whānau started a process of re-remembering a beloved kuia.
Toko also advised on the speculative stories made about the
child depicted on Ana's back in Lindauer's portrait. The child's
name is yet to be remembered and it is estimated that he lived to
be about 14-18 years. It is said he had a supernumerary congenital
condition meaning he had an extra toe on each foot. The family
recount that this child had a gift for reciting whakapapa.
Additional context and content
Ana's life dates remain unknown at this time. What is known
however is that she lived and died at Parakau, Manaia and is buried
in an unmarked grave in the church yard adjacent to the south west
corner of the church. History would suggest that Ana lived through
distinct and rapid changes to her Māori life ways. However, they
cannot describe the realities of life for her and her iwi, hapu and whānau.
The Pare Hauraki experience of government and individuals
prospecting for gold in Thames - despite protests by leading
rangatira of the day - is well-documented. The draining of the
fertile Hauraki plains for farming ruined large tracts of land that
were the sustainable food-basket of local iwi. The logging of kauri
during the 1860s -1880s contributed to the literal, cultural and
spiritual stresses endured by Pare Hauraki people wanting to retain
their Māori life ways and human dignity in the face of rapid
change. Mortality rates for children and men were extremely high.
The 1800s - 1900s confiscation and sale of Māori land for Pākehā settlement
is now being addressed by the Waitangi Tribunal in the twenty-first
'Ana' was named Ana Rupene in Lindauer's portrait but is known
by other names. A commonly known name for Ana is 'Heeni Hirini'.
The Foy Bros sometimes inscribed the names of sitters on the back
of cartes de visite and cabinet cards. One such cabinet card
provides new information for researchers because the name Heeni is
inscribed on the back (Fig.11). Accordingly, to another branch of
the Renata whānau Heeni Hirini is a family name and the one Heeni
used when dealing with land agents and land surveyors.
Fig. 11 Ana Rupene and Child, carte de visite (verso),
Foy Bros., private collection
Rodney Renata's whānau claim Heeni Hirini as the daughter of a
Pare Hauraki tipuna named 'Hirini' who had land interests in the
Otoka block in Hauraki. This is substantiated by the family
through an historic record whereby Heeni Hirini gave evidence in a
land court proceeding and states her name as Heeni citing her
father Hirini as her whakapapa connection to the block at
Manaia. This branch of the whānau believe that the name 'Ana'
was bestowed on their kuia and 'Rupene' is a misspelt version of
'Heeni' and her husband Reupene Whetuki of Ngāti Maru and Ngāti
Waihinu raised a daughter named Poia Reupene Whetuki. Poia married
Wiremu Renata -also known as Wiremu Renata Kitahi Te Taniwha- of
Ngati Whānaunga and Ngāti Maru. It is not known how Poia died, only
that she was young when she passed away. Heeni and her husband took
over the raising of Poia's children named Reupene, Te Kura, Toko11, and Mihinui, at the
homestead of Wiremu Renata at Parakau at Manaia. Not
surprisingly, Poia's children referred to and considered Heeni to
be their mother.
In the Māori world, children and mokopuna are taonga and everyone has shared
responsibility for their wellbeing and future. Ana/Heeni and her
husband provided a fulsome family life for their mokopuna.
Today, the Rodney Renata branch of the family recognises that Heeni
had a succession plan for her mokopuna ensuring their lines of
descent would become known and mokopuna would receive their
rightful land inheritances from their Ngāti Maru whakapapa. Today,
this depth of vitality and strength is a comforting and enduring
legacy for her descendants. Consequently, this connection
with Heeni has created a deep affection for a beloved kuia, despite
there not being a lot of detailed information to develop a better
understanding of Heeni Hirini, Ana Rupene or Ana Reupene Whetuki.
To that end, the Rodney Renata whānau advise they want to be clear
that they proudly claim the name Heeni Hirini.
Piecing together the puzzle of Lindauer's portrait of Ana
Rupene and child is an ongoing project and learning new things
is its own reward. In as much as Lindauer's portrait of
Ana Rupene and child harks back to another time and place,
we retain such images of ancestors in our hearts and minds as
treasures for the days to come. In this way the Toko Renata, Rodney
Renata and Foy whānau share a not too dissimilar situation, even if
it is from a different experience and perspective or motivated by
reasons that have changed over the years. It is almost impossible
to avoid contexts within contexts as there is always something else
to rediscover and recover in order to put things back together
The Whakamīharo Lindauer Online kaupapa is an
opportunity for the voices of all descendants to come forward
through the sharing of research and the generous exchange of whānau
stories. This type of research is an opportunity to support
and enable their stories. The cherished memories of uri whakaheke
have been generously extended to this research kaupapa. The stories
are fully dimensioned accounts in the lives of descendants and in
time, these stories will contribute to a better understanding of
beloved Māori ancestors, for the benefit of future descendants.
Ngahiraka Mason, Indigenous Curator, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o