Celebrating a permanent home for the painting of HMSS Buffalo. From left, Peter Henderson (Warkworth Town Hall Trust), Cimino Cole, Barry Ferguson (who contributed funding for the painting) and Alex Hayward.
A painting depicting the British navy store ship HMSS Buffalo arriving in the Mahurangi harbour found a permanent home at the Warkworth Town Hall last month.
HMSS Buffalo off Spar Station Cove depicts the arrival of the ship in 1834 to inspect facilities for producing spars for the Royal Navy.
Gordon Browne’s spar station can be seen in the background – the first European settlement in the Auckland region.
The arrival of the Buffalo turned out to be one of a number of setbacks for Gordon Browne, since the navy commandeered the best timber for itself and could pay Maori labourers higher wages, which Browne could not compete with.
Browne was ultimately to shift his timber operation to Whitianga.
The painting was commissioned after Bob Moxon Browne, a descendent of Gordon Browne, was looking for images to illustrate his book The Moxon Brownes, which tells the story of Gordon and his brother Octavius.
Mahurangi Action secretary Cimino Cole alerted Bob that Nelson marine artist Paul Deacon had already painted other pictures of the Buffalo.
Using contributions from Bob and others, Mahurangi Action commissioned a painting of the Buffalo’s arrival in Mahurangi in recognition of the historic significance of the events depicted.
Mr Cole says quite a lot of archaeological work has been done at the settlement, so it’s possible to have a fair idea of what it looked like.
And although there are no extant images of the Buffalo from the time she sailed, Mr Deacon was able to use admiralty records to create an accurate picture.
The painting was completed in 2019 and was due to hang over the fireplace at the Warkworth Hotel, but at 1800x1012mm it proved too large.
Town Hall manager Alex Hayward was delighted with the suggestion that it be hung in the Warkworth Town Hall instead.
It now hangs above the landing in the stairwell.