Charles F. Goldie ‘Day Dreams’ Nataria Mitchell

Ngahiraka Mason
Essays
Posted on 12 February 2024

Nataria Mitchell was a notable figure of the renowned Haupapa whānau through her father, Rotohiko Tangonui Haupapa. Her mother, Te Ririu Meretini Pango, was part of the celebrated Pango family recognized for their expertise in the history and whakapapa of Te Arawa. Nataria married James Niramona Zealand Mitchell, who was a surveyor belonging to the Ngāti Te Takinga, Ngāti Pikiao people, and with Scottish ancestry. Together, they raised five children. On both sides of her whakapapa, Nataria traced her genealogy back to the ancestors who voyaged on the Te Arawa canoe from Hawaiki to Aotearoa on one of the seven waka from the last great migration. Nataria lived from July 1887 to December 1962, and she passed away at the age of 75 years in Ohinemutu, as documented in Te Ao Hou - No. 42 (March 1963) and is buried at Ngōngotaha’s Kauae cemetery.

Charles. F Goldie was an academic painter who frequently visited Te Papaiouru village in Rotorua to arrange portraiture sessions with Te Arawa people from the turn of the twentieth century. He obtained permission from the villagers to capture their likenesses; sometimes, he would paint a person more than once. This modest-sized portrait of Nataria Mitchell is signed and dated 1938.

Charles Frederick Goldie
‘Day Dreams’, Nataria Rangimangeo Mitchell (nee Haupapa) – Te Arawa Tribe
oil on canvas
signed and dated 1938
310 x 257mm

Provenance: Collection of the Buckland family Auckland and housed at Higwic House, Newmarket, Auckland. Thence by descent to Graham Roy.
: Private collection, Auckland.
: Purchased from Webb’s, Auckland 27 March 2013, Lot No. 36.

$450 000 - $650 000

The painting shows a ngūtu kāka (clianthus puniceus) cluster of blooms conspicuously arranged on Nataria’s hair. The focal points of the painting are the red flowers, a kuru pounamu ear ornament, and a heitiki pendant. Nataria’s pose symbolizes how Goldie depicted Māori ancestors in the 19th Century Victorian Romanticist portraiture aesthetic of ‘reverie’ — dreamlike and lost in time, a style he embraced. Goldie also used ʻreverie’ in portrait titles of notable ancestors, such as Reverie – Pipi Haerehuka – Chieftainess of the Arawa Tribe.

In 1932, Goldie painted an earlier introspective portrait of Nataria Mitchell titled Reverie (Hinemoa, Te Arawa). It is signed, dated, and similar in size to the one available at this auction. In the earlier 1932 portrait, the color values Goldie chose to highlight her facial details produced a sense of mystery or foreboding. The painting shows the kaka-beak flower with the shrub’s greenery attached, and the kuru pounamu earring is omitted from the picture. Beyond that, we know it is Nataria.

Continuous histories keep connections active, and a painted portrait can immediately recall the past. In 2008, Netahio Theo Tait from the chiefly Ohinemutu Tait whānau, read in the Herald newspaper that a picture of Hariata Huirua, a Tuhourangi chiefess, painted in 1921 by C.F Goldie, was sold at auction after being in a one-family collection for 87 years until the 2008 auction. Netahio expressed wanting to meet the new owner of the portrait to share what he remembered about his paternal grandmother.

Hariata Huirua and Nataria Mitchell knew each other’s families through generations of kinship ties, and Te Arawa iwi, hapu, and whānau have perpetual hereditary relations. Like their forebears, the Mitchell, Haupapa, and Tait families still live in the Te Papaiouru village, and their intergenerational stories include portraits of historical significance painted by Goldie.

Ngahiraka Mason
Oahu, Hawaiʻi