Tēnā koutou. To my knowledge this is the only photo in existence of this young girl. I thought this would be a good forum to upload this photo, for you never know someone may be able to identify who she is? Here is a little bit background on how I came about this photo.

Back in 1972, I was working on a building at Royal Oak Auckland where a house was being demolished next door. An old lady, who lived in the street told me that the man who used to live there had a collection of old glass negatives and photographic equipment from some relative of his stored in the old garage.

The shame was, the developers were just bulldozing everything over without any regard of the valuable history that may have existed in the old house. Evidently, it had been standing empty for over 10 years. The garage was on a precarious lean, and appeared to only be held up by a vine that had virtually engulfed it. The first swipe of the bulldozer knocked away the front of the garage but the vine was still holding up the back section. I pleaded with the guy to hold off for a few minutes so I could check out the interesting looking paraphernalia in the back. He granted me and my brother 10 minutes while he had a smoke.

There was a lot of old bric-a-brac that had been gathering dust over the years, such as old gardening tools and motor parts. However, I quickly found the old photography equipment that I was looking for which included two old large box cameras, one of which was still mounted on its tripod. I was immediately drawn to the stacks of glass negatives stacked up on top of and under an old workbench, there was literally hundreds of them.

Each piece of glass had a layer of brown paper between them. Regrettably, many of these glass plates were damaged from a broken pane in the back window which had let the weather in over the years. As you can imagine, the glass plates were quite heavy and many were fused to their paper pages. From what I could see the majority of these negatives were of tattooed Māori people.

With little time, all we could do was quickly sort through and salvage about 25 of these plates that appeared to be in the best condition. Regrettably, the bulldozer contractor could not be persuaded to let us get any more stuff out of there. This photo is an example of the treasure trove that was unfortunately lost with that demolition. I particularly had this one developed because as you can see she was so special, her pose is so natural and doesn’t look as stiff and unyielding as many of the others. A few of the glass negatives had labels, which were mostly unreadable. With this particular one however I could make out that it was taken in the 1800s and simply stated she was a Māori Princess. Someone told me, that from the paraphernalia that adorns her, that she most probably was a princess.

I am a writer and I now live in Australia. I wanted to share this with my fellow New Zealanders. And it would be nice to think, that someone somewhere may shed some light on who this lovely little girl was, and someone could find a long lost relative. Nā Brian Isgrove.

If you or your whānau recognise this picture or would like to get in touch with Brian please email [email protected]

unknown kotiro vertical feb 2016