Tāngata Ngāi Tahu remembers and celebrates the rich and diverse lives of the people of Ngāi Tahu. Spanning time, geography and kaupapa, fifty biographies bring Ngāi Tahu history into the present.
Following the tradition of representing tīpuna in carvings within wharenui, many contemporary houses have grouped photographs of ancestors hung on the walls. The cover of Tāngata Ngāi Tahu follows this new tradition with a selection from the tohunga, rangitira, community leaders, champions of Te Kerēme, activists and scholars, fishermen and farmers, sportspeople, weavers, and musicians that fill this book.
The images in the book span the 19th and 20th centuries and are largely drawn from personal collections – many are literally snaps from family photo albums, while others are the work of assured professionals such as the rare autochrome portrait of Evaline Jane Skerrett taken by the Lumiére Brothers of France.
While amateur photography has uneven technical qualities it often captures a moment, expression, personality, event or time in history quite perfectly. The soft focus, warm and faded tones, tears and scratches can also add a patina of time to the images. We worked hard to preserve these unique image qualities while also bringing clarity, balance and focus to the images across the publication.
Tīpuna who predate photography, or had no existing images are represented in other ways. Rāwri Te Mamaru by his grave in Kawa urupā; Te Huruhuru by the maps he drew of Wānaka, Hāwea and Whakatipu wai-Māori, and Tūhawaiki by one of many documents signed with his moko.
A book of biographies by its nature simply flows from story to story. This book, with its understated, respectful design allows the inherent and varied beauty of family photographs to shine through and allow the reader to immerse themselves in an extraordinary history.