Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Daniel Mundy - New Zealand Illustrated

Wellington Independent, Volume XXVII, Issue 3542, 5 July 1872, Page 2

One of the greatest triumphs of science or art is that of blending the useful with the beautiful. A remarkable instance of this is afforded in an exhibition, free of admission to the public, just opened in this city [Wellington] by Mr D. L. Mundy, the celebrated landscape photographer, formerly of Christchurch. This accomplished gentleman has for about two years and a half given his time and his health, and more than once risked his life, in collecting many most beautiful and instructive landscapes of different portions of New Zealand. As the results of these extraordinary efforts are excellent, so their cost in money, besides the wear and tear of the workman, has been very great. Hitherto the patronage of individuals has been totally inadequate to afford even compensation for his outlay to the indefatigable artist on a work which represents correctly the most attractive features of our adopted land; and it is to be hoped that Mr Mundy will receive from some other quarter the substantial recognition he so well deserves.

Mr Mundy has installed himself next door to the temporary offices of the Provincial Secretary and Treasurer (or what used to be called " Brandon's corner"). In thee window is a galaxy of beauties in landscape photography. There are more to be seen inside, on the walls, and in several portfolios on the table: and Mr Mundy himself is thoroughly acquainted with all the country he has been illustrating, and rich in descriptive explanation of the different scenes represented. The views round the small room are all taken in the immediate neighborhood of Lake Taupo, and the Tongariro mountain group in the centre of this island, or in that of the Waikorapupu (or "boiling water") country lying between the large lake and the Bay of Plenty. This "lake district" is a country full of marvels, and thus referred to by Dr Hochstetter in his "Geology of New Zealand:" — "The distance from Tongariro to the Whakaari volcano (White Island) is 120 nautical miles. Over this whole distance, almost on the very line between these two active craters, it seethes, and bubbles, and steams, from more than a thousand crevices and fissures that channel the lava — beds of which the soil consists — a sure prognostic of the still smoldering fire in the depths below; while numerous fresh- water lakes, of which Lake Taupo, twenty miles in diameter, is the largest, fills up the depression of the ground. This is the lake district so famous for its boiling springs, its steaming fumaroles, solfataras, and the bubbling mud-basins, or, as the natives call them, the Ngawhas and Puias. Till now none but missionaries, Government officers, and some few tourists have ventured by the narrow Maori paths through bush and swamps to visit this marvellous region; but all who have witnessed with their own eyes the wonders of nature displayed here were transported with amazement and delight. Only the natives have hitherto made use of these hot springs, which are the grandest in the world, and sought relief in them for their various complaints and diseases. But when once, with the progressive cultivation of New Zealand, these parts have become more accessible — then thousands dwelling in the various countries in the Southern Hemisphere, in Australia, Tasmania, or New Zealand, will flock to those parts, where nature not only exhibits such remarkable phenomena in the loveliest district, with the best and most genial climate, but has also created such an extraordinary number of healing springs.

In the "Manual of New Zealand Geography," by Mr Bowden, head master of the Grammer School, but of which Dr Hector, Government Geologist, has contributed the portions, relating to geological topography, it is further said:—

"The most marvellous lake is Rotomahana, or Hot Lake,' fed by boiling silicious springs
which keep the whole of its water at a high temperature, and deposit an enamel-like white silicious crust or coating over the whole margin of the lake, giving the whole region a fantastic or fairy land-like appearance. These springs are generally intermittent, and the largest of them exceeds in extent and power the 'Great Geyser' of Iceland. In the vicinity of the hot springs food is ordinarily cooked, without fire, by placing it in one of the
numerous fissures from which steam is escaping."

This is just what Mr Mundy has taken pains to illustrate in the best possible manner. But he also adds human life to the pictures most appropriately. At the time he was travelling through the district, Te Kooti was a mysterious fugitive in the same neighborhood, and our adventurous artist, although accompanied by an armed trooper of the Constabulary force and by a friendly chief, experienced several "hair-breadth 'scapes" of being fallen upon by that murderous desperado. Accordingly, the gallery begins with a picture of Captain Mair and his Maori contingent, the two figures of the white paymaster and of the cook exemplifying the Highland-like costume worn by officers and men alike in their arduous marches through the bush and morass. In another plate, a portion of the force is seen filing along in the foreground of a pretty piece of lake scenery, fully displaying the tall and athletic build of these hardy foresters. Next we come to views of Lake Taupo. Tokanu, studded with boiling springs, the scene of a sharp combat between To Kooti and Colonel Macdonnell's force; the spot where the great river of the North Island, the Waikato, pours its waters out of the great lake, which is 1250 feet above the sea level, but unfathomable with 400 yards of line; a look back from a little way down the river to the lake and the snowy peaks of Tonga Riro (smoking) and Ruapehu (9195 feet high) in the distance (this is a charming picture); the extraordinary gulch-way through which, only 20 or 30 feet broad but of unknown depth, the Waikato roars at the rate of 250,000,000
gallons of water in every hour, making the whole of the neighborhood tremble with its surging force; the great cauldron of Tokanu, in which the bush troops used to cook sheep and pigs whole; the silicious terraces, interspersed with natural baths of every temperature; the appalling aperture of an intermittent geyser which Mr Mundy, had Just time to camerize before the boiling water rose again; the beautiful double Waterfall of Waihi at the S.W. extremity of Lake Taupo, — close to one of the residences of the great chief of tht region, Te Heu-heu; and his ancestral patuka, or sacred store house, with its ancient carved images, which the chief restored from their hiding-places during the war on purpose that Mr Mundy should portray them with the aid of the sun;— such are the principal illustrations of "the lake district." Many of these views are seen to greatest advantage through the large magnifying glass which is at hand for the purpose: take for instance the distant view of Tonga Riro, with its beautiful foreground of shrub covered river bank.

Mr Mundy has two cases of curious and admirable specimens of silicious incrustations from the hot cascades of Rotomahana. They were broken off from the under edges of the "enamel-like," or alabaster-like, terraces, - to which they were affixed with such hard material as to chip a superior steel bill hook. They consist of wooden twigs of all kinds, chiefly manuka, blown into the lake above or on to the terraced cascades, and quickly encrusted with a marble-like substance, — so that they are at once as hard as that rock and as brittle as the details of wedding confectionery. In many instances every berry and leaf of the plant is as complete as when it was growing; but it has become the most delicate fretwork statuary.

Another remarkable series of landscapes consists of views about the Bay of Islands and Hokianga. Especially interesting about the former are, the beautiful falls of Waitangi, and the dwelling of the late Mr Busby, British Resident in 1840, with the lawn on which the celebrated treaty was signed, that made New Zealand a part of the British Empire; and the battle ground of Ohaeawai, so fatal (in 1846) to many of our misled sailors and soldiers. About Hokianga, there are some charming river scenes, with illustrations of the flax plant and flax mills; of a curious spherical boulder 40 feet in diameter; of the most graceful fern trees; and of the gigantic logs and mammoth growth of that monarch of the New Zealand forests, the kauri pine. Here also is the residence of Native Judge Maning, the pakeha Maori; and an exquisite study of nikau, or New Zealand palm, in a "sylvan scene" on his estate.

There are a panorama of Auokland, and a few smaller views in and about it; and three delicious views of Sir George Grey's luxurious home at his own charming island of Kawau.

A large series thoroughly illustrates the Thames goldfields. The mines themselves, and country about them; gems of fern trees and other foliage amidst the devastation of quest for the precious mineral; wire tramways in full action; batteries, with their huge waterwheels and their interior machinery; comprehensive views of the Caledonian and several other renowned mines; Shortland and Grahamstown, the latter with the tall chimneys of its steam batteries likening it to an infant Manchester; and a few views in and about Mercury Bay, the spot where Cook observed the transit of the planet in 1769. Then a number of pictures about Poverty Bay showing Young Nick's Head, the land first seen by Cook, and the mouth of the Turanganui river where he first landed, more than a century ago, the scenes of the barbarous murders by Te Kooti and his banditti, and the modern townships of Gisborne and Ormond. A panorama and some other views about Napier complete the summary of pictorial New Zealand North of Wellington. Mr Mundy's views about this city are chiefly precious as representing scenes that have now disappeared. The old Provincial Government Building is thus commemorated before the addition of the lofty wing and other adjuncts to the present edifice. A view of the old Government House and the Cemetery, with a temporary edifice erected for the reception of the Duke of Edinburgh includes the old Barrett's Hotel, - the "Faneuil Hall" in which the early Governors held their levees, and the early colonists their meetings, dinners, and balls; and in which the" Wellington town sections were originally selected in August, 1840. Old colonists will gladly secure lasting memorials of these marks of the colony's infancy and childhood.

Last, but not least, there is a series illustrative of the overland journey from Lyttelton to Hokitika, supplemented by a number of landscapes at the head of Lyttelton Harbor, at Akaroa, and the other picturesque points on Banks Peninsula.

Several of the magnificent mountain views, and beautiful woodland glens on thee West Coast Road from Christchurch to Hokitika are already familiar to some of our readers, and so are a few of those taken in the "boilingwater" country, from having been exhibited in the Colonial Museum. But no one can have any idea of the richness and infinite variety of Mr Mundy's most interesting collection, without giving a good half-hour to a personal inspection of it. That gentleman is an artist by nature as well as by profession; and this fact accounts in a great measure for the perfection of his sun pictures. He not only instinctively selects the best point of view, as well in the artistic as in the utilitarian relation — taken the picture of the object which will most inform you as well as most gratify your sense of the beautiful; but he is not satisfied till he has got the right light upon his object and the best effects from his chemicals. He is not content with the mediocre or the ordinary. He will do the very best he can; and the collection is brilliant with evidences of these patient and praiseworthy efforts to reach excellence.

We trust not only that the Wellington people will shew their individual appreciation of artistic excellence in their adopted country's truthful portraiture, by granting as much private patronage to the undertaking as their patriotism may prompt and their means allow, but that our legislators, to whose particular notice we recommend this striking exhibition, will by careful examination satisfy themselves that Mr Mundy has achieved a good work for the colony at large - one that may be largely utilised for correctly and pleasingly representing to intending colonists, who are yet doubting as to their destination, the charms of New Zealand.

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