Summary

Studio portrait of two Maori women dressed in different styles of kakahu (Maori cloaks). The woman on the left wears a kahu kiwi (kiwi feather cloak), the most highly regarded of kahu huruhuru (feather cloaks) and the woman on the right wears a korowai (cloak with hukahuka or tassels). Both woman are also wearing, hei tiki or figurative neck pendants which are taonga (cultural treasures). Carved from pounamu (greenstone or nephrite) and often imbued imbued with mana (power, prestige), their exact meaning remains unclear, however they have been commonly associated with fertility. The photographer's imprint forms part of the image and reads: 'ILES PHOTO. REGISTERED No 66'. Iles photographed a range of subjects including people, landscapes, sites as well as the local flora and fauna. His specialisation, however, was portraiture, particularly of the Maori population. Throughout his career he relocated his studios many times, including Thames, Auckland and Rotorua in New Zealand and Sydney, Australia at the Falk Studios. In 1893, Iles had relocated to Thames, on the North Island of New Zealand and it was in this period and location that Iles really began to establish himself as a photographer of Maori people. He was able to attract Maori people to his studio with his association with Captain Gilbert Mair, a captain of Maori troops loyal to the colonial government, who faciliated visits by senior Maori men His marriage to Rebecca Elsie Utuatonga, a Maori woman in 1895, would have assisted Iles to encourage young Maori women to be photographed in his studio. Born in Oamaru in New Zealand's South Island in 1870, Iles would eventually, at just 21 years of age, establish his own photography studio in Central Otago in 1891. Iles' father was a photographer, and without doubt this early exposure to and association with photography, influenced his path. His marriage to Rebecca Elsie Utuatonga, with whom he had five children ended in divorce in 1932 and he subsequently married Ada Hunt. Iles died on 9 April 1943.

Physical Description

Albumen print. Photographer's imprint on bottom of print. No information on reverse.

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