He Ringatoi O Nga Tupuna
This is a biography of English artist Isaac Coates who painted an important series of historical Maori portraits in Te Tau Ihu/Top of the South and the Wellington area, between 1841 and 1845. The 58 watercolour portraits depict Maori men and women from chiefly whakapapa, as well as commoners and at least one slave. Coates’s meticulous records of each subject’s name, iwi and place of residence are invaluable, and his paintings are strong images of individuals, unlike the stereotyped art of the day. Whanau, hapu and iwi treasure Coates’s works because they are the only images of some tupuna. In He Ringatoi O Nga Tupuna eminent Te Tau Ihu historians John and Hilary Mitchell unravel the previously unknown story of Isaac Coates, as well as providing biographical details and whakapapa of his subjects, where they can be reliably identified. They discuss Coates’s work, and the many copies of his portraits held in collections in New Zealand, Australia, US and UK.