Charles Meryon

French, b.1821, d.1868

Presqu'île de Banks; Pointe dite 'Des Charbonniers,' Akaroa : Pêche à la Seine

Recalling a scene from the artist’s experience from nearly two decades earlier, this etching pictures a group of French naval hands fishing with seine nets in Akaroa Harbour, at a point once known as Charbonniers – most likely named for the charcoal making that took place there. A strong French presence in Akaroa had followed whaling captain Jean Langlois’s 1838 purchase from Ngāi Tahu of over 12,000 hectares on Te Pātaka o Rākaihautū / Banks Peninsula. The French government intended to establish a colony and expand into the rest of Te Waipounamu / the South Island. These plans were blocked, however, by the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi by local rangatira (chiefs) Iwikau and Hone Tikao (John Love), at nearby Ōnuku on 30 May 1840, thereby paving the way instead for British colonisation.

(Te Wheke: Pathways Across Oceania, 2021)