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Arrival of missionaries in Tahiti

Date: 1803
Dimensions:
525 x 730 mm
Medium: Paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Art
Object Name: Engraving
Object No: 00039676

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    Description
    Coloured engraving depicting the arrival of missionaries of the London Missionary Society in Tahiti in 1796. Published 1803. Engraved by F. Bartolozzi.

    Based on an original oil painting by R.Smirke and purports to depict cession of the district of Matavai to Captain James Wilson of the ship Duff. Infact the missionaries were at best, tolerated by the Tahitians and the position of the missionaries remained tenuous until about 1825 when Queen Pomari sought to associate her rule with European power - resulting in the first large-scale conversion of Polynesians to Christianity.
    SignificanceThe engraving illustrates a European perspective of one aspect (the arrival of missionaries) of European encounter and attempts to settle the Pacific islands in the late 18th century.
    HistoryFollowing the period of late 18th century Pacific exploration the main island groups had been geographically located and a European settlement had been established in Australia. The next great European impact on the people of the Pacific was heralded by the arrival of missionaries of the London Missionary Society in Tahiti in 1796.

    The engraving is based on an original oil painting by R.Smirke and purports to depict cession of the district of Matavai to Captain James Wilson of the ship Duff. Infact the missionaries were at best, tolerated by the Tahitians and the position of the missionaries remained tenuous until about 1825 when Queen Pomari sought to associate her rule with European power - resulting in the first large-scale conversion of Polynesians to Christianity.

    From the earliest years of settlement of the colony of New South Wales, Tahiti remained an important source of salt pork for the fledgling colony and missionaries travelled frequently between Port Jackson, Tahiti and other Pacific islands.

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