Images of Wairarapa Maori return

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A cabinet card featuring Nga Tau e Waru, the house built at Te Ore Ore in 1880, and photographs of Maori people. PHOTO/WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE
A cabinet card featuring Nga Tau e Waru, the house built at Te Ore Ore in 1880, and photographs of Maori people. PHOTO/WAIRARAPA ARCHIVE

A piece of Wairarapa has been brought home in the form of a rare greeting card, thanks to a Greytown woman who spotted it online and recognised its value.

The card features a collage of images taken by Thomas Edward Price, the resident photographer in Masterton from 1879 to 1896, who built up one of New Zealand's key collections of Maori portraits.

These mystery people are among the collage, photographed by T E Price. PHOTO/FILE
These mystery people are among the collage, photographed by T E Price. PHOTO/FILE

Narena Olliver discovered the cabinet card of Maori faces surrounding a marae on eBay.

"I thought it might have been Papawai and that it should be returned to its tribe," said Ms Olliver, a dealer in antique prints. She said the print "was quite expensive".

"I just tried to bring it back to where it belonged because much of this stuff does get lost."

Ms Olliver donated the card to Wairarapa Archive in early February, not long after receiving it in the post.

"I thought there's no point in mucking around with it.

"If I put it in my collection, I Historical card gifted 'back to where it belongs'

I thought it might have been Papawai and that it should be returned to its tribe ... because much of this stuff does get lost.Narena Olliver, Greytown antique dealermight not see it again."

Historian Gareth Winter, who works at Wairarapa Archive, said the whare was Nga Tau e Waru, built at Te Ore Ore in 1880.

He said according to the Otago Daily Times the collage was marketed in 1883, and probably sold nationwide as a Christmas greeting card.

Mr Winter also discovered in the print the same man and woman who appeared on two cartes de visite that were donated to the archive earlier this year.

The photos, taken around 1880, appeared on the front page of the Times-Age in January.

Mr Winter is eager to put names to the mystery couple, who are possibly Masterton tipuna (ancestors), so he can return copies of the photographs to their families.

"I did find a photograph of the young man in a digital catalogue of the State Library of New South Wales.

"I'm even more curious to know who he is, as he keeps popping up."

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