Atama Paparangi - A Noble Relic of A Noble Race
25 x 21 cm
est. $260,000 - 320,000
Private Collection, Auckland
Atama Paparangi, a favoured subject of C.F. Goldie's and Chief of the Rarawa Tribe, Atama lived at Mitimiti, Hokianga. At over six foot tall, with an intricate facial moko by the famous tattooist Huitara, he was a strikingly handsome figure. In the image below Goldie trims his friend's whiskers in order to better show the details of his moko. Throughout the 1930s Goldie submitted portraits of Atama (often referred to as an aristocrat because of his noble bearing) to the Royal Academy, London and the Paris Salon.
The artist and his subject met in 1901 during a royal visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall. A warm friendship developed and in 1914 on completion of his portrait now housed in the collection of the Auckland Museum, Atama wrote a letter of tribute to his friend:
To Mr Goldie The Painter of Portraits Auckland
Ah Son! Greetings This letter is to thank you for my picture which arrived a few days ago. Great is the admiration of my tribe at the beauty of your work. Enough! I will now express my feelings towards you. 'A voice from the skies makes music to the ear. It is that of a shining Breasted Cuckoo. The Harbinger of Spring. The trees of the Forest have bedecked themselves in their summer raiment. The sea is red with the blossoms of the Pohutukawa. The Clematis in the Forest Glade have burst into flower, creating vistas of beauty. The myriad graceful trees of the Woods augment the scene. They are like unto a bridal pair with their retinue, awaiting the guides who will lead them to the Perfect Happiness, which knows no end.' Such are the feelings of my heart for you. Many are the wishes beautiful and good that I would wish you but words fail. The sum of the words of greeting, of love and of good fellowship as expressed in this phase:'May Health and Prosperity attend you and all whom you love.' Takahi Atama Paparangi
As a young warrior Atama had fought against Hone Heke in 1830 at Kororāreka, Bay of Islands. In later life he embraced Christianity. After a long and eventful life Atama died at 100 years of age, immortalised by his friend C.F. Goldie.