This series of artworks has been honoured as a set of 5 stamps to commemorate Tuia 250.
When Tupaia, an arioi priest and navigator from Ra‘iātea, guided Lieutenant James Cook and the Endeavour from Tahiti to Aotearoa in 1769, a reconnection was made between Māori and their ancestral homelands. As featured on these stamps, New Zealand artist Michel Tuffery has created original artworks in response to his discoveries about where his personal history meets that of these first encounters.
About the artwork:
White blossoms of Tahitian tiare maori (Gardenia taitensis) join the vibrant red ngutukākā/kākābeak (Clianthus puniceus) of Aotearoa in this portrait of natural history artist Sydney Parkinson, which celebrates his relationship with Tupaia.
Male members of the Tahitian religious society known as arioi, to which Tupaia belonged, were often skilled in dyeing and decorating barkcloth. An artistic exchange occurred when Tupaia was instructed in the use of watercolours, producing significant paintings, and Parkinson learned the names of Tahitian dyes and dye-making plants.
In the background, waka are pulled up at Opoutama, in Ūawa, where Tupaia left charcoal cave drawings and Tahitian text still visible today.