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Object: Carving, scene

This image has Some Rights Reserved. Creative Commons BY-NC-ND Creative Commons BY-NC-ND copyright licence

Title Carving, scene
Production Gee, William (carver), circa 1905, Wellington
Materials totara, glass
Classification tableaux, carvings
Technique woodcarving
Dimensions Overall: 379mm (Height) x 586mm (Width) x 230mm (Depth)
Credit line Gift of Mrs G. M. Williams, 1965
Registration number GH007416

Mount Taranaki, on the west coast of New Zealand's North Island looms in the background of this scene carved in tötara wood. A mirror-glass river runs through the centre of the work, and a waka (canoe) and Maori meeting house stand in the foreground. The New Zealand scene was carved about 1905 by William Gee, a Chinese man living in Wellington, New Zealand.

Gee's work
Gee was well known in Wellington, and admired for his carving in a time when Chinese immigrants were not popular in New Zealand. Listing his occupation as 'carver and gilder', he created highly detailed New Zealand town and forest scenes. He also produced larger, commissioned work, such as church fittings, in wood and stone.

Gee's smaller pictorial work would have been a remarkable cross-cultural example of Chinese woodcarving coupled with New Zealand motifs. However, most of it has not survived. This work, Te Papa's only example of Gee's talent, is simple and was produced late in his life.

William Gee
William Ah Gee (1844 -1914?) was one of Wellington's earliest Chinese settlers. He was born in Kem Wah Village in China's Canton Province, and arrived in Wellington in 1868, aged twenty-four. In 1871 he married Jane Melbourne, and by the late 1870s he was living in Blenheim, at the top of New Zealand's South Island.

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.