Robert Herdman-Smith

England / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1879, d.1948

Rora Hupariki Tawha of Wairewa

  • c. 1908
  • Watercolour in rewarewa frame
  • Presented by Mrs Isobel R Prosser, 1992
  • 242 x 242mm
  • 92/15

This small watercolour portrait was previously titled ‘Old Rora’. The recognition of Rora Hupariki Tawha of Wairewa as the painting’s subject was made possible through the recent discovery of a photographic portrait. Rora Tawha and her husband Henare Tawha Te Pahou lived at Wairewa, on a piece of land set aside as a Native Reserve at Little River, Horomaka (Banks Peninsula). Their names were included in the 1848 Ngāi Tahu census. Following widespread government-led appropriation of Ngāi Tahu lands, Rora Tawha is known to have later championed ownership rights for lands on Horomaka at Ōpukutahi, Ōnuku and Waikākahi pā near Poranui (Birdlings Flat). Both portraits conform to how Rora Tawha reportedly wished to be portrayed. As the sender of the photographic portrait postcard noted, she “would not have her photo taken without her pipe in her mouth”. (He Waka Eke Noa, 18 February 2017 – 18 February 2018)

Note: A second version of this portrait is incorporated into a larger watercolour work by Robert Herdman-Smith, signed and dated 1908, in the collection of Akaroa Museum.

Exhibition History