Replica in plaster of a cast taken from the living face of Maori chief Taupua Te Whanoa in 1854. [JC 29 9 2009]

Place details: OCEANIA POLYNESIA. New Zealand / Cultural Group: Maori: Local Name: Unknown. Materials: Plaster / Pigment / ?. Processes: Cast / Moulded / Painted / ?. Dimensions: Max H = 255 mm Max W = 160 mm Max D [approx] = 100 mm Maker: Horatio Gordon Robley Field Collector: Unknown When Collected: 1854 ? Other Owners: Horatio Gordon Robley PRM Source: Horatio Gordon Robley Acquired: Purchased 1903

KEYWORD: Cast / Reproduction / Tattooing Accessory / CLASS: Physical Anthropology / Body Art / Reproduction / ?.

Object description: Replica in plaster of a cast taken from the living face of Maori chief Taupua Te Whanoa in 1854. [JC 29 9 2009] From conservation card by Heather Richardson 24.04.2001: Cast of a Maori face from life, which has been painted and tattooing etched into surface. Predominant colour is orange/brown with tattooing and hair in black. The black seems to be sealed with varnish. (24.04.2001) [FC 14/04/2009]

Research notes: This cast appears to be taken from the same person as cast 1943.11.2 was - the tattoo and facial features are identical. [JP 1/2/2001]

There is a cast of the same person as this and 1943.11.2 in the collections of Te Papa Tongareva National Museum of New Zealand. The example at Te Papa was illustrated as Figure 100 on page 84 of Ta Moko: The Art of Maori Tatoo (revised edition), by D. R. Simmons (Auckland: Reed Books, 1999 (1986)), along with the following information: 'Life mask of Tapua Te Whanoa. Cast made at Rotorua for Sir George Grey in 1850. Tapua Te Whanoa was a noted chief and tohunga of Ngati Whakaue of Rotorua. Note the centre forehead pattern, which establishes him as an ahupiri by right of birth. He was also a noaia, a warrior, so he would have been an expert on war. The pattern on the top lip indicates that he has protected knowledge and was therefore a teacher. The pattern is repeated on the chin, which establishes him as having paramount rights - taiopuru rights. The double koru at the root of the nose is his right to succession, while the curve into the outer corner of the eye shows his son's right of succession, with above it the sign of recognition by the taiopuru and the tribe. Tapua Te Whanoa was a man of high rank, a tohunga, a protector of the taiopuru and commander of tribal armies.' (Photocopy in RDF.) NB A number of scholars have cast doubt on the assertions made in various publications by David Simmons. His account should thus be treated with caution. [JP 23/2/2001; JC 29 9 2009]

In an email dated 26 February 2001, Dougal Austin (Collection Manager at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand) confirmed (1) that the original cast was taken in 1854 from the face of Tapua Te Whanoa when he was still alive; (2) that the original cast is in the British Museum; and (3) that Robley made replicas from this original cast. (See printed out email correspondence in RDF.) [JP 26/2/2001; JC 29 9 2009]

The original cast is listed as item 2351 on page 145 of The Maori Collections of the British Museum, by Dorota C. Starzecka, Roger Neich, and Mick Pendergast (London: The British Museum Press, 2010): '2351 / Plaster cast of man's face / 1854.12-29.93. Length 25 cm. / Painted brown; tattoo, eyebrows and lashes painted in black; tattoo pattern incomplete. / Provenance: Grey Collection. / Comments: Plaster cast impression of Te Taupua, eldest son of Te Whanoa and descendant of Pukaki of Ngati Whakaue, Rotorua. Te Taupua was a renown[ed] carver of Ngati Whakaue who lived in Ohinemutu and met with Sir George Grey in late December 1849 at Te Ngae, where he was persuaded to have his tattooed face cast: 'Moko purewa'; Te Taupua had no issue. (Information provided by Paul Tapsell, descendant of Pukaki, of Auckland Museum, February 1996.)' [JC 7 7 2011]