Purchased with funds from Wairarapa Arts Foundation, Masterton Trust Lands Trust, Masterton Licensing Trust, QE II Arts Council and public donation.
Retimana Te Korou was born in the late 1700s, the son of Te Raku and his wife Te Kai. He had extensive ties to both Ngāti Kahungunu and Rangitāne iwi of Wairarapa. In the 1830s Retimana was involved in the battles with Taranaki iwi moving into the Whanganui-a-Tara area and soon after moved to Māhia with other Wairarapa rangatira. He returned to live at Ngāumutawa and Kaikōkirikiri. Te Korou encouraged Pākehā settlers and was the principal agent in negotiations with Joseph Masters and the Small Farms Association that led to the establishment of the township of Masterton in 1854. In 1974, this portrait came up for auction at the Wairarapa Arts Centre. His descendants near and far began raising funds to purchase it, and the community, both Māori and Pākehā, rallied to the cause, led by the Wairarapa Arts Foundation.
The painting sold for twice the amount expected to the local syndicate, which was determined to keep the portrait in the Wairarapa, bidding against out of town collectors and dealers. After the sale, there was another community effort to raise the balance of the funds. Nearly a century after his death Retimana was again bringing the Wairarapa people together in common cause.
Excerpt by Bronwyn Reid from Aratoi 50/50 Book