The iconic lighthouse at Taiaroa Heads lighthouse was built in 1865. The painting depicts the Dunedin pilot boat Koputai heading out to embark the pilot on a steam vessel arriving at the pilot station. The full moon highlights the rugged coast line of Otago Peninsula.
The lighthouse serves to landmark coastal hazards such as capes and peninsulas and enables safe navigation around these potential hazards.
The first pilot boats to operate out of Otago were whale boats in 1863. These light narrow boats were rowed and sailed out to Taiaroa Heads to rendezvous with the vessel. The pilot boat is the true hero; operating in challenging conditions, enabling the pilot to board the vessel and proceed with the safe passage into the port.