'Aramauna', View Rd,
June 3rd, 1905.
Dear Mr Partridge,
You may remember some little time since, we had a conversation
about certain Maori mokos; notably that which they call 'Moko
kuri'; of which there is a partial tracing in Sydney Parkinson's
Journal of his voyage with Cook. If I am not mistaken, you said
that as you knew Mr Henry M. Stowell, and as I could supply you a
copy of the drawing in question, you might through Mr Stowell be
able to find the missing parts of the moko.
I enclose tracing from Parkinson's plate, but am of opinion the
manner of drawing the lines is not quite correct; however that is a
minor detail which little matters at present.
The Northern Maoris told me this represents Te Kuku, the man who
was shot by Cook's people in Poverty Bay (?); and as they got the
body on board the ship, there was ample time for Parkinson to make
an accurate drawing, which I have little doubt he has done in the
main at least. But evidently the man's forehead (ti-ti) was
incomplete; and what I want to find out is whether it is now
possible to restore that part from Maori information. Mr Stowell,
who sees so many natives, may come across one who can draw the
missing part; I believe I can then complete the whole. Up north
they could not tell me this; saying the moko was a rare one of the
old days, and not now in use. In a Christmas supplement to the
Otago Witness there is a picture of a Maori with this moko, but it
is of no value; being only an artistic 'fake'.
If the thing is not soon recovered it will be lost for good; as
the old tattooers are dying off and next to none of it is now done.
Perhaps it may be impossible to recover the ti-ti of this moko; but
at least the effort can be made, so that we do what we can to save
a bit of Maori work so far. Most of the other mokos I know, except
where the body itself was elaborately worked over; which however
was probably very seldom. But perhaps there was also a peculiar
Whakairu (hip-mokos) to this kuri as well as to the others; if so,
let us try to get it also.
I do not much mind what work it may cost me to get this
complete; will attempt a painting of it if any more information can
be got. And I can't help thinking it was rather fortunate Cook's
people shot this special sample; as otherwise we should never have
known of it at all!
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