Author(s): William H.T. Partington
The reproduction of this outstanding collection of 19th Century photographs of Maori by WHT Partington is an important event, in both historical and photographic terms. Most of these photographs have never been exhibited before. These photographs were mostly taken in the Wanganui area at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. A large number of them are studio portraits but William Partington also travelled up the Wanganui River 'the Rhine of New Zealand' and photographed people in their own environments. They have now been bought by the Whanganui Regional Museum and will be exhibited there. Through these photographs, we are taken back through time, we see some of the detail of their lives and we can imagine their reactions to the photographer. The photographs document a people in transition. As well as this historical significance, the photographs stand as works of art - displaying Partington's careful eye, fine sense of composition and technical excellence. Partington was an excellent photographer but he was an unknown in the art world until the discovery of this collection, held by some of his descendants. He was the son of early Auckland settlers whose windmill, Partington's Windmill, was a well-known landmark. When his Auckland studio burnt down, he moved to Wanganui and established a studio there.
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