Artwork Description / Detail
Te Aho o te Rangi Wharepu of the Ngati Mahuta Tribe in the Waikato was one of Goldie’s most handsome and obliging subjects. Cited as one of Goldie’s favourite sitters, Te Aho o te Rangi Wharepu is dedicated a page of reference in Taylor’s extensive book on the legendary painter, Charles Frederick Goldie.
Te Aho o te Rangi Wharepu of the Ngati Mahuta tribe lived at Mercer in the Waikato. A hardened old warrior, Te Aho survived the battle of Rangiriri when he and the other chiefs had been forced to surrender after running out of ammunition. Not surprisingly, a request for more gunpowder so that they could carry on the fight, was refused, and they were taken prisoner and held for a number of months in the hulk Marion on Auckland Harbour.
He was one of the Waikato warriors who raided Taranaki about 1831 under Te Whero Whero, who later became the first Maori King under the name of Potatau. The invaders captured Pukerangiora Pa and in this and other battles killed and ate hundreds of the Ngati Maru people, carrying off many more as slaves. Earlier, Te Aho had fought at Taumatawiwi, near Cambridge, during a campaign in which the Ngati Haua and Waikato tribes defeated the Ngati Maru and other tribes of the Thames and Hauraki districts.
It is not known when Te Aho met Goldie, but obviously their relationship was good, for Te Aho travelled up to Auckland on numerous occasions to pose for the painter. The old Maori could be seen sitting on the steps of the South British Insurance Company, the first three-storey building in Auckland on the corner of Queen and Shortland Streets.
Te Aho lived to be nearly 100 years old. During his lifetime he achieved a substantial reputation as a canoe architect and he was also an authority on Maori mythology and history. Goldie painted his first portrait of Te Aho in 1902 and during his career painted his favourite sitter again in 1905, 1907, 1909, 1910, 1911 and 1913. Examples in public museums include The Calm Close of Valour’s Various Day in the Auckland Art Gallery and All’e Same t’e Pakeha in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery collection. There were a few paintings completed in the 1930s. A number of the earlier paintings were in Goldie’s personal collection at the time of his death in 1947.