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Image The rescue of John Guard

TLF ID R2051

This is a watercolour painting (22.1 cm x 45.2 cm) of the 'Harriet Affair', made by C Watson in 1885. It is entitled 'The rescue of John Guard, then a child of three years of age by Captain Lambert of "HMS Alligator"'. The painting shows the kidnapped infant John Guard, who had been a passenger on the shipwrecked vessel 'Harriet', being rescued from Mäori in Taranaki in 1834. His rescuers were crew members of the naval vessel HMS 'Alligator'. The inscription in the bottom right-hand corner of the artwork reads: 'Rantwbacker Pah Irakraid [sic] New Zealand. / Where Betty Guard and her two children one at the Breast / and the other three years of age were rescued in the years 1834 by / H.M.S. Alligator Capt George Lambert'.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset shows that British authorities involved themselves in New Zealand affairs - when John Guard's father, Jacky Guard, who was an ex-convict turned whaler, appealed to the Colonial Government in Australia to assist in a rescue mission after the kidnapping of his wife, Betty, and their two children, John and Louisa, the authorities in New South Wales, who were charged with overseeing matters in New Zealand, sent two naval gun ships to intervene, the first use of Imperial troops in New Zealand.
  • It illustrates the dramatic nature of the rescue mission - the boy John Guard was grabbed from the back of an old chief who had carried him down to the beach, the chief was then shot and a full-scale battle broke out, resulting in the loss of many Mäori lives; a subsequent House of Commons inquiry in England criticised the commanders of the operation, who, most people agreed, had used excessive force against the Mäori.
  • It shows that there was conflict between Mäori and European during the early contact period - it is likely that the kidnappers planned to demand a ransom for the return of the child.
  • It demonstrates that important events, such as the 'Harriet Affair' (as it came to be known), were recorded by artists after the event - little is known about the artist who created this work.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Organization: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: C Watson
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Organization: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements