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John Rutherford. The White Chief. A Story of Adventure in New Zealand. Edited: James Drummond. (1908) Undated. Whitcombe and Tombs, Christchurch


This is undated but almost certainly a 1908 1st edition of which only 2000 were printed, some with green covers and some with brown. Bagnall says that only some copies had the date printed on the Title page. The Introduction is dated 1908 and there is no mention of it being a reprint


John Rutherford, lived for 10 years amongst Northland Maori. He was tattooed on both his face and body in Maori style

There are theories as to how he came to NZ:
A sailor from the ship Agnes which was supposedly captured by Maori at Tokomaru Bay, on the East Coast of the North Island
Captured from the ship Brothers, Kennedy Bay 1815
A deserter who became tattooed to escape the notice of other Pakeha

As he was illiterate and dictated his story to an author named Craik from whose works Drummond obtained his information, the story has become somewhat embellished but is nevertheless correct on many points and provides a very early glimpse of the pre-European Maori way of life

On his eventual return to England Rutherford sometimes travelled as a showman, showing his moko and telling of his adventures in NZ in order to raise money to return to Tahiti, where he had married after he left NZ. It is not known what actually became of Rutherford

Other “Pakeha Maori,” deserter sailors, convicts etc mentioned in very early NZ writings are also discussed

Names of lines of moko on a man’s face, with drawings


234pp; b/w photos; hard covers, gilt lettering; very good condition; gift inscript ffep; original Bookseller’s label Title page; closed page edges l/foxed


Text Copyright 2016
Collectible Books, Napier




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  • Seller location: Napier, Hawke's Bay, NZ

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