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George Crummer: Picturing the Cook Islands

Monday 4 July 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Features, Weekend

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George Crummer: Picturing the Cook Islands
Portrait of a mother and her three children, circa 1914, Cook Islands, by George Crummer. Te Papa (B.027712)/22063003

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries George Crummer built up a business taking pictures of Cook Islanders and general scene photographs in Rarotonga, Aitutaki, and Mangaia.

George Robson Crummer was born in Auckland on 14 June 1868. His parents George and Mary Jane Crummer migrated to Auckland from Ireland on the ship the Mary Shepherd in 1866.

In 1890 with a number of business partners, George Robson invested in a topsail schooner called ‘Jessie Niccol’. The schooner was employed to sail between the Cook Islands and Auckland bringing fruit, copra, pearl shell, and fungus from the islands and returning with general cargo.

It was in the Cook Islands that George met his wife Upokotio who was the daughter of Tangaiia Mataiapo, a high chief of Takitumu. They married in 1892 and had seven children.

Along with the shipping business, George built up a business taking portraits of Cook Islanders and general scene photographs in Rarotonga, Aitutaki, and Mangaia.

  • Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Cook Islands cricket team, 1909, Cook Islands, by George Crummer. Te Papa (B.028276)/22063002

Unknown man and woman, circa 1910, Cook Islands, by George Crummer. Te Papa (B.028256)/22063004

Traditional dance troupe, circa 1906, Cook Islands, by George Crummer. Te Papa (B.027735)/22063005

Family group, circa 1910, Cook Islands, by George Crummer. Te Papa (B.028290)/22063006

View of the wharf at Avarua, Rarotonga, circa 1914, Cook Islands, by George Crummer. Te Papa (B.027685)/22063007
‘Scene in Avarua, Rarotonga’. From the album: Cook Islands, circa 1896, Avarua, by George Crummer. Te Papa (O.025551)/22063010

Nuku ‘festival’, circa 1914, Cook Islands, by George Crummer. Te Papa (B.027639)/22063011

Family group portrait, 1914, Cook Islands, by George Crummer. Te Papa (C.003113)/22063012

Two men and a bicycle, circa 1914, Cook Islands, by George Crummer. Te Papa (C.003054)/22063013

Three unknown women, circa 1910, Cook Islands, by George Crummer. Te Papa (B.028287)/22063014