Many drawings and paintings of Māori have survived from the first half of the nineteenth century, but there are far fewer by Māori. From their subject matter and date, one would expect the four sheets of drawings in the Library's collection to have originated from somewhere in Northland. In fact, they were drawn in Shropshire.
Tui and Titiri were among the early converts to Christianity made at the Reverend Samuel Marsden's first New Zealand mission at Rangihoua in the Bay of Islands in 1814. They travelled back with Marsden to New South Wales and lived at his Parramatta station for three years. They then expressed a wish to see England and sailed for London aboard H.M. Brig Kangaroo, arriving in February 1818. Ill-prepared for an English winter, they soon succumbed to a bronchial infection and were nursed back to health by a Shropshire clergyman, George Bull. It was while staying at Bull's house that they made the drawings.
Tui was the younger brother of Korokoro, chief of Ngare Raumati, an iwi based at Paora on the south side of the Bay of Islands. One of the finest drawings shows Korokoro's facial tattoo. Others depict canoes, kites and weapons of war, including a a tewhatewha (long-handled wooden axe), patu (short club made of wood, stone or bone), and pouwhenua (wooden staff pointed at one end).
Tui and Titiri returned to the Bay of Islands in 1820. The English trader Richard Cruise gave a vivid description of Tui in his 1823 book Ten months' residence in New Zealand: 'He was dressed in a blue coat, trousers and boots and wore a cocked hat with a long white feather. From the circumstances of being very little tattooed, he was not unlike a foreign officer; and when he ascended the deck, he addressed the persons around him in English. At breakfast he conducted himself quite like a gentleman...' Cruise was often virulently anti-Māori in his opinions, however, and in a later chapter he added, 'The trouble and expense that had been bestowed in attempting to civilise him, appeared to have entirely failed; and we found him without exception the greatest savage and one of the most worthless and profligate men in the Bay of Islands.'
Many Ngare Raumati warriors were killed in the 1820s during a protracted war with Ngapuhi. Tui seems to have been one of the victims.
One of the drawings carries the hand-written inscription: 'When Tooi and Teeterree were in England they were very ill and I, George Bull, a clergyman, was then at the Missionary House in London, and I nursed them and they loved me for being kind to them. I hope their relations will be kind to William Greenwood for he is a good man and will not cheat them. George S. Bull.'
William Greenwood took the drawings with him when he emigrated to New Zealand in 1840. They were donated to the Library by his descendants.