Robert MacDonald died suddenly at his home last Friday. Historian and visionary, MacDonald was a warm, erudite man - lots of fun and well respected by those who were lucky enough to come into contact with him.
Founder of Waimārama Māori Tours, he was passionate about the value of history and committed to sharing the story of his place with Māoridom.
Tapping international visitors to enable his ambition, MacDonald set up a touring company to help fund Hakikino, a 62-hectare conservation reserve, at what he called the "historical birthplace of Kurukuru tribe".
MacDonald was also responsible for bringing a wonderful Lindauer portrait of Hōriana Te Wharepu to Hawke's Bay and placing it in the care of the Hawke's Bay Museums Trust Collection.
Just last month around the lunch table, he relayed the story of the purchase by the trust, which owns the work.
Alerted that the portrait had come up at an auction house in Auckland, he and others travelled north with hopes of buying it.
The great-great-grandson of Hōriana Te Wharepu, MacDonald knew well the significance of the work for his whānau at Waimārama and for the people of Hawke's Bay. MacDonald and his cohort set off armed with what they thought would be sufficient cash to buy the portrait.
They were greeted by a slightly nervous auction house team, who seemed a bit worried that MacDonald and his largely Māori crew were "there to cause trouble". A quiet word with the auctioneer smoothed the way for his group to register as bidders and the auction began.
MacDonald found himself bidding against a Hawke's Bay publican who also wanted the portrait and the price began to soar, well over what MacDonald had anticipated. A quick call to the family trust and money was found to make the purchase, significantly above its estimated value.
After the auction, MacDonald rang to let his mother know they were successful bidders. A bit daunted by the sky-high price, she asked, "That's wonderful news Robert, I'm not so worried about the portrait, but do we still have a farm?"
In the 1800s, chief of Waimārama, Tiakitai, had a brother from another mother named Harawira Mahikai Te Tātere. In an arrangement between the brothers, Tiakitai's eldest daughter Horiana married Harawira's son, Wi Te Māngi Tūroa.
Heartbreakingly, of Horiana and Te Māngi's eight children only their daughter Morehu survived, each child remembered by name on Horiana's poignant headstone at Waimārama.
Hōriana spent most of her life at Waimārama and Ocean Beach but her birthdate is unknown. What is known, is that Hōriana lived until 1906 and that she was a beautiful woman.
As a young woman she apparently styled her hair with products of the time, whale oil and pork fat. It is also recorded that Hōriana received her kauae in 1869 at Pā-Tangata.
Living in challenging times, it is clear that Horiana was a strong woman, a wāhine toa who also spoke strongly of her convictions.
While Māori men of the time were actively engaged in issues to do with Pākehā settlement and land acquisition, there was a movement of Māori women advocating the prohibition of alcohol and cessation of the lands sales. Hōriana was very involved in this group, having seen the negative impact of Pakehā settlement.
At a meeting in 1895 at Te Haukē, Horiana spoke against the sale of land calling it "the greatest disaster to touch us", moving that the Native land Court should cease, and with that, leasing and sales should end.
Just like her great-great-grandson Robert MacDonald, Horiana was a woman of her time who spoke out for and worked towards the advancement of her community. Through the portrait she is remembered.
The Museums Trust is extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to care for this art work and is grateful for the foresight and generosity of people such as Robert MacDonald, who have created the opportunity for all the people of Hawke's Bay to see such a fine work.
• MTG Movie Club. Searching for Sugar Man. In the early 1970s Sixto Rodriguez was a Detroit folksinger who had a short-lived recording career with only two well-received but non-selling albums. Unknown to Rodriguez, his musical story continued in South Africa where he became a pop music icon and inspiration for generations. June 13, 1pm, Century Theatre, Tickets $10, MTG Friends $5 through eventfinda or at MTG.
• MTG Movie Club. The Music of Strangers. On a quest to uncover Leonard Bernstein's "universal language of music", renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma travels the old Silk Road with virtuoso musicians from diverse instrumental traditions to collaborate on rousing new musical explorations. June 13, 3pm, Century Theatre, Tickets $10, MTG Friends $5 through eventfinda or at MTG.
• MTG Movie Club. Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World. Many artists and musical forms played a role in the creation of rock, but arguably no single piece of music was more influential than the 1958 instrumental Rumble by American Indian rock guitarist and singer/songwriter Link Wray. June 13, 5pm, Century Theatre, Tickets $10, MTG Friends $5 through eventfinda or at MTG.
• Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Chosen from around 360 films, is a collection of the most inspiring action, environmental and adventure films from the festival. June 24, 7pm, Century Theatre. Tickets $20, NZAC and under 18 $15 through eventbrite.
• TG Pop-up shop open in Century Theatre Foyer 9.30am–5pm every day.