0196 The Romanticized Māori – Māori Portraits on Late 19th- and Early 20th-Century Postcards and Photographs

  • Hilke Thode-Arora (Author)

    Hilke Thode-Arora, PhD, is a German social and cultural anthropologist. Specialising in Oceania, her research interests lie with material culture and the history of museum collections, interethnic relations and ethnic identities, images and stereotypes. From 2002 to 2005, while doing her fieldwork on Niuean weaving under the auspices of the Ethnological Museum in Berlin, she held a Honorary Fellowship at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. At the Five Continents Museum in Munich, based on a three-year research project funded by the Fritz Thyssen Foundation, she curated the exhibition From Samoa with Love? Samoan Travellers in Germany 1895-1911. Retracing the Footsteps, which contextualised the history of the Samoan collection in Munich and was based on in-depth communication with Samoan descendants. From 2015 till 2016, she was the curator for the Pacific collections at the Übersee-Museum in Bremen. Since 2017, she is the Head of the Oceania Department / Curator for Pacific Collections and Anthropology at the Museum Fünf Kontinente / Five Continents Museum in Munich. Her research projects included long-term fieldwork in New Zealand, Samoa and Niue in close collaboration with the Samoan and Niuean communities. Selected publications: Tapa und Tiki. Die Polynesien-Sammlung des Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museums, Cologne 2001; Weavers of Men and Women. Niuean Weaving and its Social Implications, Berlin 2009; From Samoa with Love? Samoan Travellers in Germany 1895-1911. Retracing the Footsteps, Munich 2014; "Verflochten in Beziehungen. Über das heutige Sammeln neuerer polynesischer Flechtkunst", in: Expeditionen in die Südsee, ed. Markus Schindlbeck, Berlin 2007, 165-186; "Nukuoro: German Sources on the Ancestor Statues: Kubary, Jeschke, and the Hamburg South Sea Expedition", in: Nukuoro. Sculptures from Micronesia, eds. Christian Kaufmann and Oliver Wick, exh. cat. Fondation Beyeler Basel, Munich 2013, 44-59.

Identifiers (Article)


In New Zealand, daguerrotypes since the 1850s and later on wet-plate photography already had Māori portraiture as an important motif. The 1860s saw a dramatic rise in cartes de visite, and since the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, photos and postcards representing Māori men, women and children boomed. Mainly produced by Pākehā (European settler) photographers for a Pākehā audience, these portraits depicted Māori in a stereotypical way which also characterised photography on the Pacific Islands of the time: often propped with emblematic weapons or jewellery, men were staged as fierce warriors, women either as innocent belles or, like men, as very old, often with the allusion of a ‘dying race’. New Zealand tourism, especially in the Rotorua area with its thermal attractions, was thriving by the 1890s and brought along a souvenir production which already proved so large and lucrative that it was partly outsourced to companies in Germany. Cartes de visite and postcards were sent overseas in large numbers, evidence for 1909 shows a peak of nine million cards posted from New Zealand. Their impact as a form of popular media must have been immense, creating and perpetuating stereotyped images of Māori people in Aotearoa (the Māori name for New Zealand) and all over the Western world. However, the 1890s brought an increasing acceptance and appropriation of photographs by Māori people themselves. Especially in the tangi mourning ceremonies, photos of the deceased took a prominent part. Furthermore, the photos of important ancestors were given their place in the whare whakairo meeting houses.


New Zealand, Gottfried Lindauer, Maori, portraiture, representation, Othering, popular media, postcards, cartes de visite, hei tiki, Idar-Oberstein