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Tracking Travelling Taonga
A narrative review of how Maori items got to London from 1798, to Salem in 1802, 1807 and 1812, and elsewhere up to 1840.
Author: Rhys Richards
Isbn: 9780473331993

Very few Maori items with adequate provenances survive from the fifty years between the death of Captain Cook and the start of the colony of New Zealand in 1840. This narrative-review looks at how Pacific maritime history and other sources can be used to track travelling
taonga now in museums and other collections around the globe.

The global narrative begins with a chance meeting off North Cape on 11 June 1793 and two items now in Norway. Other taonga from Muriwhenua in 1793 and Waihou (Thames) in 1795 are in Australian and UK museums. A big chapter arises from the American traders to China from 1802 to 1812, whose Maori donations are in Salem, Mass. Another chapter illustrates the large collections made by Russian visitors to Queen Charlotte Sound in 1820 and now in Russia and Estonia.

Two Royal Navy ships seeking spars in 1820-1821 prompted the sale of muskets for preserved human heads, mokomokai, which led to the disastrous musket wars among the northern tribes. (An annex surveys the evidence in early British and Australian newspapers of the growth, and prohibition, of this gruesome trade.) Where once so much was collected, little survives today. Over 5,000 Maori items are in museums overseas, but only about seven percent have any supporting evidence of when and where they were collected before 1840. The few that remain today are now all national taonga.

114 b/w photos

2015 Paperback 274 pages
Good condition

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