‘Sketches, scratches and daubs’

In January 2016, the Alexander Turnbull Library received an exceptional donation in the form of three sketchbooks from Mr Mayo Marriott in London, England. They were created by Thomas Biddulph Hutton (1824-1886) between 1844 and 1846.

Hutton, who was born and died in England, arrived in New Zealand in 1843, to teach at St John’s College at Waimate in the Bay of Islands. In November 1844, when the college was relocated to Auckland, Hutton made the move south as well. These sketchbooks record his experiences of a new country at a relatively young age, and include portraits of Māori, church architecture, botanical drawings and images of Māori and Pākehā social life.

Portrait of Reverend Thomas Biddulph Hutton, ca 1870s.Portrait of Reverend Thomas Biddulph Hutton, ca 1870s. Ref: 1/2-021505-F.

How the collection was acquired

The Library was approached by Mr Marriott through the Library’s online channel, Ask a Librarian, with the offer of the three sketchbooks, for which he was looking for an appropriate home. He also possessed two other sketchbooks by Hutton, one of Australian scenes (since housed in Australia at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane), and one of English scenes.

The provenance of the material was strong: the donor is a descendant of Hutton’s second wife Sarah, née Marriott, whom Hutton married in 1868 after returning to England. The sketchbooks, as their dedications to members of Hutton’s family testify, were sent home to England upon their completion, so it is fortuitous that they have now returned to the country where they were created.

‘Rough things’

The three sketchbooks are in various states of disrepair, and two are in need of close attention. The first book (E-111-1) is the most intact, and the most detailed. It is dedicated to ‘Jane Hutton from her affectionate brother Thos. B. H.’.

Hutton has taken care to number each of his sketches, and periodically through the book refers to each page by its number and explains briefly what is happening, or the identity of a likeness. This has proved to be helpful in the descriptive process, with portraits of Māori identified and colleagues of Hutton’s named.

The 'Moko' of Renata Kawepo. [November-December 1844]. E-111-1-044The moko of Renata Kawepo. [November-December 1844]. Ref: E-111-1-044.

For example, this extraordinary drawing, approximately life-size, was executed by the owner of the moko himself, Rēnata Tama-Ki-Hikurangi Kawepō, (Ngāti Te Upokoiri and Ngāti Kahungunu). Kawepō was a Māori leader, missionary and correspondent to Donald McLean.

It was drawn on a separate sheet of paper and attached to the contents of the sketchbook; the following page depicts a head-and-shoulders profile of Kawepō, dated 11 December 1844.

Twenty-five years later, Rēnata’s right eye was gouged out in an act of vengeance by a young woman named Paurini. She was the widow of a chief who had been killed in the taking of Te Porere pa, in which Kawepō had participated. Rather than punishing Paurini, Kawepō decided her act was a fair one – and later married her.

The conflagration. 3 Feb[ruar]y [1845]. E-111-1-059The conflagration. 3 Feb[ruar]y [1845]. Ref: E-111-1-059.

Hutton sometimes amusingly captured the daily trials and tribulations of his fellow settlers. He writes of this scene:

The conflagration - the burning of Mr White's tent which took place at night and would have made a grand scene for one of the "dreadful accidents and bloody murders" peep shows which travel about England. Not being much of a dab at the brush, it is not as good as the subject deserved. No one was hurt, and but little property destroyed, the tent and its contents being moved away in time.

Peeps into a Maori kainga. No.1. War dance. Jan[uar]y 1845. E-111-1-056Peeps into a Maori kainga. No.1. War dance. Jan[uar]y 1845. Ref: E-111-1-056.

Similarly, Hutton describes this scene as:

A native house near some corn plantations. I went there one day, when hearing that I had never seen a war dance, four or five of the men immediately performed one, but without much spirit, as it requires a great deal of excitement on their parts to be done well.

Panahi. Calystegia soldanella. Poporo. Solanum laciniatum. E-111-2-005Panahi. Calystegia soldanella. Poporo. Solanum laciniatum. Ref: E-111-2-005.

Hutton also included various botanical drawings in his sketchbooks, showing a proficiency and subtlety in his detail and colouring. He has executed these figures of the morning glory and poroporo with a particular finesse, demonstrating a stylistic versatility.

While in New Zealand, Hutton married Sarah Williams (1829-1866), the daughter of the Revd Henry Williams (1792-1867), in 1849, and was ordained in 1853. These sketchbooks reveal his devotion to Christianity, with numerous careful depictions of church exteriors and interiors.

No.1. New Zealand Church Architecture. Pulpit. Reading desk.No.1. New Zealand Church Architecture. Pulpit. Reading desk. Kaitaia. Oct[ober] 17 [1844]. Ref: E-111-1-022.

The Huttons also spent time in Lower Hutt, where Thomas served as a deacon. He was forced to give up this position in 1858 due to ill health, and transferred to Newcastle, New South Wales. However, the year 1860 saw him back in the Bay of Islands, where he resided until 1868.

Sarah’s death in 1866 prompted him to return to England, where he held positions as a curate in various dioceses in Yorkshire. He married his second wife, also named Sarah (née Marriott), in 1868.

Auckland 360⁰

The final seven pages of the third sketchbook comprise a panorama of Auckland from One Tree Hill. The drawings are numbered 3 to 9, with 1 and 2 apparently missing from the sequence. Comparing the landmarks in the panorama against an aerial map of Auckland, it appears that the missing drawings would have covered the area including Mount Roskill, Mount Albert, and Three Kings.

Landmarks include a south-west view across Manukau Harbour to Puketutu Island and the group of three small volcanoes beside it that includes Maungataketake, which has since been quarried away.

Panorama from One Tree Hill.Panorama from "One Tree Hill" [No. 3-9]. Ref: E-111-3-009/015.

These fascinating and historically valuable sketchbooks, held together at E-111-1/3, are not the first examples of Hutton’s work to be acquired by the Library. An earlier sketchbook was purchased at auction in 1963 via descendents of the Williams family (held at E-137-q, some pages of which are digitised).

This sketchbook was featured in an exhibition of ‘Empire literature, documents and prints’, organised by the London booksellers John and Edward Bumpus, of Oxford Street, London, in 1939. At that time the sketchbook was in the possession of Bishop Charles Abraham, son of Bishop Charles and Caroline Abraham, who had strong church and family ties to Bishop George Selwyn and his wife Sarah.

The exhibition also featured sketches done by Caroline Abraham, herself a competent watercolourist. The event was reported in the article ‘Early Auckland’, for the Evening Post on 15 October 1934.

In addition, the Library holds a typed transcript of a journal by T.B. Hutton, at MS-1065 (with a microfilmed copy of the original in the Katherine Mansfield reading room at Micro-MS-0080). It was kept for Reverend William Charles Cotton (1813-1879), who was chaplain to Bishop Selwyn and headmaster at the mission school where Hutton taught, during two periods in which Cotton was absent from St John's. At that time the college was in its temporary situation at Purewa.

Further complementing the Turnbull Library’s Hutton collection are 10 surviving journals by W.C. Cotton, with substantial illustrative contributions by Hutton and accounts of Rēnata Kawepō’s travels with Cotton and Selwyn, which are housed in the State Library of New South Wales.

Interestingly, Volume IV of the journals contains a drawing of Kawepō’s moko, and a profile portrait of him, both very similar to those in the Turnbull Library sketchbook.

The illustrations appearing in this article are the only ones digitised from the three sketchbooks so far. The Library expects to have the collection online in its entirety, in due course.

Grateful thanks to Dr Oliver Stead, Paul Diamond, and Llewellyn Jones for help and advice.


‘Blain Biographical Directory of the Anglican Clergy in the South Pacific, ordained before 1831’ (pdf, 181KB), Anglican History.

Angela Ballara and Patrick Parsons. "Kawepo, Renata Tama-ki-Hikurangi", Dictionary of New Zealand Biography.

"Links with the past", Evening Post, 15 October 1934.

By Denise Roughan

Denise is Assistant Curator, Drawings, Paintings and Prints.

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Helen Smith March 20th at 10:17AM

Interesting reading, thanks Denise