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<EM>Moa restoration</EM> by Augustus Hamilton

Curator Athol McCredie talks about this highly theatrical scene.

Moa restoration by Augustus Hamilton
<P>This recording was created for Te Papa’s in-gallery audio tour.</P> <P>Transcript:</P> <P><STRONG>Athol McCredie</STRONG></P> <P>What to make of this image? We appear to be witnessing three pre-European M&#257;ori, hunting a moa.</P> <P>Of course, these giant birds became extinct centuries before the advent of photography. So this is not a ‘real’ image, so to speak. It has, however, served for many years as the next best thing.</P> <P>There are two stories of how the photograph came about.</P> <P>One is that Augustus Hamilton, the photographer, had the moa constructed for the Otago Museum, and then placed it in the Dunedin botanical garden for a photo shoot. He asked these three young M&#257;ori men to pose, as he imagined their ancestors may have hunted.</P> <P>The other version of events is that this was a prank by student members of Otago University’s M&#257;ori society, who stole the moa from the museum and took the photograph.</P> <P>Whatever the circumstances, this picture has been widely used in publications and exhibitions. It has functioned as a substitute for a true documentary record, which will never exist.</P> <P>Of course, these days, we’d be more likely to create this kind of picture using a computer, instead of&nbsp; going to so much trouble.</P>

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Augustus Hamilton, &lt;EM&gt;Moa restoration&lt;/EM&gt;, 1899-1904

Augustus Hamilton, Moa restoration, 1899-1904