Crosscutting timber in Lavin's Bush

Crosscutting timber in Lavin's Bush for rails

Alfred John Cooper (d 1869), Bushwork. Crosscutting timber in Lavin's Bush for rails, ca. 1860, Watercolour on paper., Drawings, Paintings & Prints collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, Reference: A-235-009

Crosscutting timber in Lavin's Bush

On 10 April 1869, a war party led by the Rongowhaakata leader Te Kooti attacked settlements in Mohaka in the Hawkes Bay, seeking utu (revenge) against the Ngati Pahauwera iwi (tribe). Among the people killed were Alfred Cooper, his friend John Lavin, and Lavin’s wife and children, who were among the earliest European settlers in Mohaka.

Years before, Lavin had sent his family in England a number of small watercolours by Cooper, which show the Mohaka area and aspects of their life. On the back of this work Lanvin wrote:

'Bushwork. Crosscutting timber in Lavin’s Bush for Rails, that’s the job I am at present occupied about. I was at work at it today. I get my neighbour Mr Cooper to help me crosscut. The felling and splitting I do single handed. My neighbour Cooper is facing you, very like him. My back towards you. Rover on top the log.'

The Alexander Turnbull Library’s Drawings, Paintings & Prints collection has 14 watercolour paintings by Cooper.

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Collection Drawings, Paintings and Prints