0191 The Currency of Gottfried Lindauer’s Māori Portraits

  • Stephen Turner (Author)
    University of Auckland, New Zealand

    Stephen Turner is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. His research interests include settler colonial, Indigenous and environment studies, pedagogy, literacy and cultural transmission. He is currently working on a book about the challenge of Indigenous law in Aotearoa New Zealand, and, with Sean Sturm, a book about the university and dissent. Creative works include an online journal concerned with the politics of place (Argos Aotearoa), and a collaborative artwork with New Zealand-based photographer Ann Shelton concerned with settlement and abandonment (http://www.annshelton.com/publications/wastelands.pdf). Academic publications include a special issue, co-edited with Tim Neale, of Settler Colonial Studies (Other People’s Country: Law, Water and Entitlement in Settler Colonial Studies, 5.4 [2015]), devoted to Indigenous law and water, and writing concerned with the overlap of nature, technology and pedagogy (with Sean Sturm, ‘The Tyre -Child in the early World’. Educational Philosophy and Theory [Oct 2015]), with the invasive culturalism of new worlds (‘Anglosphericism’ in the Journal of New Zealand Literature (JNZL), 31.2 (2013), and with the parasiticism of national historiography (‘The Parasitical Historiography of Ann Shelton’s Photography’ in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art 15,1 [2015]).

Identifiers (Article)


This article addresses the relations between painting, photography and settler colonialism in the nineteenth century through the Māori portraits of Gottfried Lindauer. Lindauer paintings are partly notable for the role that photography, via the projective device of the episcope, played in their production. In the context of the European exoticising of non-western others, and a rapidly expanding market for their images, this intermedial device manifests a gap between painter and sitter, pre-modern and modern, the existing older county of Māori and the new county of New Zealand. The photographic operation of the exotic further includes national and international exhibitions in which Lindauer’s portraits were shown, and the collectors, curators and commissioners of Lindauer’s work, who I conceive as parasitical intermediaries or, in Kwame Anthony Appiah’s phrase, culture brokers. Such figures situate Lindauer’s paintings within a metropolitan regime of evaluation which is underpinned by distance and debt. However, the portraits are also vehicles for currency of another kind, which is the mana motuhake (independent authority) of Māori. Understood within Te Ao Māori (the Māori world) the portraits bridge the perceptual gap of the exotic, and make present, or felt, the historically continuous self-sovereignty of their subjects.


Gottfried Lindauer, Portrait Painting, Photography, New Zealand, Maori, Nineteenth Century, Settler Colonialism