Anonymous Stewart Island Maori Girl
Medium Albumen print
Mount on original mount
Photo Date 1890s Print Date 1890s
Dimensions 6 x 8-1/8 in. (152 x 206 mm)
Photo Country New Zealand
Photographer Country New Zealand
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
Nude from the waist up, the reclining woman lies on a woven mat. Title and negative number reversed out of negative.
Stewart Island/Rakiura is the third-largest island of New Zealand. It lies 19 miles south of the South Island, across Foveaux Strait. The original M?ori name, Te Punga o Te Waka a Maui, positions Stewart Island/Rakiura firmly at the heart of M?ori mythology. Translated as the Anchor Stone of Maui’s Canoe, it refers to the part played by the island in the legend of Maui and his crew, who from their canoe, the South Island, caught and raised the great fish, the North Island. Rakiura is the more commonly known and used M?ori name. It is usually translated as Glowing Skies, possibly a reference to the sunsets for which it is famous or for the Aurora Australis, the southern lights that are a phenomenon of southern latitudes.
Captain Cook was the first European to sight the island in 1770, but he thought it was part of the South Island so named it South Cape. The island received its European name in honor of William W. Stewart, who was first officer on the ship Pegasus, which visited from Port Jackson (Sydney), Australia, in 1809 on a sealing expedition. Stewart charted the large southeastern harbour which now bears the ship's name (Port Pegasus), and determined the northern points of the island, proving that it was an island. He made three further visits to the island from the 1820s to the 1840s.
In 1841, the island was established as one of the three Provinces of New Zealand, and was named New Leinster. However, the province existed on paper only and was abolished after only five years, and with the passing of the New Zealand Constitution Act 1846 the province became part of New Munster, which entirely included the South Island. When New Munster was abolished in 1853, Stewart Island became part of Otago Province until 1861 when Southland Province split from Otago. In 1876 the provinces were abolished altogether.
For most of the 20th century, "Stewart Island" was the official name and in common use by most New Zealanders.
Tourism was popular from the late 19th century. In 1894 the Otago Witness referred to ‘visitors to the island being very numerous in the summer time, sometimes as many as a hundred being on the island at one time’.