Te Aho Te Rangi Wharepu

Te Aho Te Rangi Wharepu (1811-1910), 1907
Charles Frederick Goldie (1870-1947)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 00901
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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Te Aho Te Rangi Wharepu (1811-1910)

Te Aho Te Rangi Wharepu was a warrior of the Ngati Mahuta who posed regularly for Goldie from 1902 onwards. This powerful portrait shows him aged 97 and manages to convey a sense of dignity and melancholic wisdom.

Like Harata Rewiri Tarapata, he is adorned with symbols of his rank and status: a fine flax tasselled cloak and a hei-tiki. The hei-tiki is designed as a pendant in human form, it symbolises strength and is usually passed down from generation to generation. Each piece carries a mana (prestige) that increases with each new bearer, with the most precious having known histories stretching back into time.

He is also wearing two pounamu (greenstone) kuru (ear pendants). The Māori consider items made from greenstone to increase in value as they are handed down the generations.

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