Historic paintings take pride of place at Highwic

Press Release – Historic Places Trust
Visitors to Highwic – the NZ Historic Places Trust property in Newmarket – can now see an important collection of artwork depicting scenes of early Auckland.

The sketches and paintings by Colonel Arthur Morrow have a close family connection to the beautiful Newmarket mansion, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary.

“Colonel Morrow was the son in law of Alfred Buckland – the original owner of Highwic,” says Highwic’s Manager, Cheryl Laurie.

“A number of the paintings and sketches we now have on display feature scenes of Buckland’s Beach in the late 1800s, and many other wonderful Auckland vistas.”

Morrow was an interesting personality – a military man through and through, yet highly artistic. A crack shot with a rifle, he won several prestigious awards for his target shooting, and had a distinguished military career in New Zealand serving in the Waikato War. He also had an abiding interest and passion for New Zealand’s flora and fauna, as well as art.

The Buckland family owned 350 acres on the Tamaki Peninsula in addition to Highwic. The area became known as Buckland’s Beach, and the family – including Morrow – spent many summer months there enjoying horse riding, picnicking and swimming.

“Summers at Buckland’s Beach were no doubt idyllic, though getting there from Newmarket was a bit of a mission,” says Cheryl.

“The family would leave Highwic early in the morning, driving through Remuera in four-wheeled cabs drawn by teams of four horses. The trip by carriage on the rough, gravel roads took five hours one way; an extraordinary length of time for a comparatively short distance, even by today’s standards of legendary traffic snarl-ups.”

While Morrow sketched and painted over summer, his brother Robert – a former Colonel in the Indian army – enjoyed less sophisticated pursuits. These frequently involved firing live ammunition from his scale model brass cannon across the water, and taking out any fish that dared to break the water’s surface.

“For the extended Buckland family, summers at Buckland’s Beach were a time to get together, relax, have fun and enjoy the beautiful land and seascape, which Colonel Morrow captured so well in his paintings and sketches,” says Cheryl.

“We still have many of his art works, and we are privileged to be able to display these at Highwic and celebrate the integral part these pictures have in the history of Highwic and the Buckland family.”

Colonel Morrow always retained a strong interest in things military, and was not slow in making suggestions to the Government about how it could improve the armed forces.

“He initially lobbied Richard Seddon about presenting a battleship to the British Government from New Zealand, and although nothing happened for some years, Sir Joseph Ward eventually made the offer, which was accepted by the British Government,” says Cheryl.

“Other suggestions and ideas by Morrow included improvements to dockyard security in Britain to better prevent espionage activity, the development of smoke camouflage and a prototype idea for a hand grenade, predating the Mills’ Bomb – which was to become the standard issue hand grenade for British troops.”

Colonel Morrow died in 1937 at the age of 94. His wife, Mariamne – the third daughter of Alfred Buckland – died in 1957 at the age of 102.

“The Morrow collection of artwork is an important part of the Highwic story – and an important collection of New Zealand art in its own right,” says Cheryl.

“The sketches and paintings capture a very different time in Auckland’s history and for that reason alone are a wonderful legacy. They’re also a reminder of the extraordinary individual that created them.”

Admission to Highwic is $10 for adults; children and NZ Historic Places Trust members free.


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