Charles Frederick Goldie

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1870, d.1947

Whitening Snow of Venerable Age - Tamati Pehiriri, A Noble Chieftain of the Ngāpuhi Tribe

  • Robert Bell bequest, 1943
  • Oil on canvas
  • 229 x 178mm
  • 69/81

Although Charles Goldie made at least three portraits of this kaumātua (elder), he is one of several sitters who remains incompletely identified. When bequeathed to the city’s art collection in 1943, the portrait was titled Whitening Snow of Venerable Age, with no sitter’s name attached. The identification ‘Tamati Pehiriri, a Noble Chieftain of the Ngāpuhi Tribe’ came at a later, unknown date. While no biography about this person has yet surfaced, his surname identifies him as a descendant of Te Pehi riri o Kaitara, a leader in the late 1700s of Ngāti Hineira and Te Uri Taniwha hapu of Ngāpuhi, in the far north Te Ahuahu district. His name also links him to the Ngāpuhi chief Mihaka Pehiriri, who in 1871 published a biography of the eminent Ngāpuhi leader Tamati Waka Nene, whose portrait Goldie also later painted from a photograph.

Information is welcomed from visitors, particularly those with family links.

(He Waka Eke Noa, 18 February 2017 – 18 February 2018)

earlier labels about this work
  • Goldie was New Zealand´s leading artist in Māori portraiture in the early years of the 20th century. He specialised in meticulously realistic portraits like this small one of Tamati Pehiriri in which the details of the moko, skin, hair and cloak are painted in fine detail and with complete truth to the natural surfaces.

    Tamati Pehiriri was a venerable chief of the Ngāpuhi people of Northland. He would be encouraged by his people to sit for Goldie as a means of recording his image for future generations. Atama Paparangi, another northern chief, wrote to Goldie around this time saying:

    `Great is the admiration of my tribe at the beauty of your work…. Many are the wishes beautiful and good that I would wish you ….´