Paikia, Maori Chief of Thames

Horatio Gordon Robley
Production date
This picture is typical of many Robley made during his stay in New Zealand from 1864. Intrigued by Ta Moko or Maori tattoo, Robley collected numerous examples of Maori designs over his lifetime, which was not just restricted to sketches of the living. At one point Robley had the largest collection of mokomokai (the tattooed heads of Maori) in the world. He collated much of his research including his drawings into a book called 'Moko – Or Maori Tattooing' published in 1896.

Horatio Gordon Robley (1840–1930) was a career soldier and adventurer following in the footsteps of his father who was a captain in the Indian Army. Robley joined the 68th Durham Light Infantry when he was 18 and was to spend the next 29 years in service while travelling the world. In 1864 Robley was posted to New Zealand and was eventually despatched to assist in General Cameron’s Tauranga Campaign. During his time in New Zealand, spent predominantly in Tauranga, Robley became fascinated with Maori customs and lifestyle. He came to be known as Te Ropere and met Harete Mauao of Matapihi. Together they had a son named Hamiora Tu Ropere who was born sometime before Robley’s departure in 1866. Robley was also a keen amateur artist and was rarely without a sketchbook during his extensive travels. While in New Zealand, Robley produced a significant number of sketches, which not only depicted the local Maori population but also documented in great detail the battle of Gate Pa at Pukehinahina; many of these drawings appeared in the London Illustrated News.
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Object Detail

Watercolour on paper
420 x 388 x 20mm (whole)
183 x 162mm (image)
Production place
Department Collection Type
Object type
Credit line
Trust Waikato Art and Taonga Collection
Accession number