The Wairarapa Archive will shortly be publishing a book on an interesting early pakeha settler by one of his descendants.
Albert Allom was a friend of the Wakefield family and arrived in New Zealand as a survey cadet for the New Zealand Company. Along with other survey cadets, he decided to try his hand at being a grazier, and leased land from Wairarapa Maori near Wairarapa Moana. He and a fellow cadet, John Tully (later to marry a daughter of William Mein Smith) called the run ‘Tauanui’. After they gave the lease up it was run by Peter Hume – his descendants still farm parts of it.
During his time at Tauanaui, Allom had a run in with the local chief Ngairo Takatakaputea, also known as Ngairo Rakaihikuroa, and we were keen to use a copy of his portrait as an illustration in the book. The Dunedin Public Art Gallery holds a copy of a Lindauer portrait of Ngairo, so the author wrote to them asking for a digital copy (it has been digitised as it is displayed on their website) and for permission to publish the image in the upcoming book. They said we could use the image and asked for a fee in excess of $100.
The Pitt River Museum in Oxford hold a similar painting and when asked, were happy to provide a copy for publication, royalty free. The director commented that he found it sad we needed to go half way around the world to obtain a copy, a sadness I also feel.
It raises a fundamental question. What is the purpose of a public cultural institution?
Our answer is simple – we are here to get information out. Not in, but out. Why are we gathering cultural items if not to make them available to the public, with as few impediments as possible?