CAIRE, N. J. (Nicholas John) (1837-1918)
Residents posing outside a winter hut at Maloga Mission on the River Murray, New South Wales.
[Between 1885 and 1888]. Albumen print photograph, 150 x 200 mm, laid down on its original paper mount, printed caption in gold ink across the bottom margin ‘Scenes on the River Murray’, along with the imprint of ‘N.J. Caire, Photo., Prize Medallist. Laboratory and Office: 2 Darling St., South Yarra’; contemporary inscription in ink verso of mount: ‘Winter Hut, Native Station, Maloga’; the print is in fine condition with good tonal range, and aside from some mild edge wear the paper mount is likewise in very good condition.
Maloga Aboriginal Mission Station, situated on the New South Wales side of the Murray River near the township of Moama, was established in 1874 by missionary and school teacher Daniel Matthews, together with his brother William. The community at Maloga comprised families and individuals from a number of different language groups, with the majority of residents being from the Yorta Yorta Nation. The Mission was closed in 1888, when most of the residents and buildings were relocated by the Aborigines Protection Association to the nearby Cummeragunja Reserve, where the strict religious and temperance rules in force at Maloga were to be relaxed. The land at Cummeragunja had been set aside for the community following a petition presented to Governor Loftus by senior Maloga men in 1881.
In July 1887, prior to the closure of Maloga, Governor Lord Carrington visited Moama. He was met by a delegation of indigenous representatives from the Mission who presented him with a new petition requesting that Queen Victoria grant the community their own land, which would be independent of the Cummeragunja Reserve. This petition, which ultimately fell on deaf ears, was signed by a group of senior male members of the community: Robert Cooper, Samson Barber, Aaron Atkinson, Hughy Anderson, John Cooper, Edgar Atkinson, Whyman McLean, John Atkinson, William Cooper, George Middleton, and Edward Joachim. It is almost certain that one of these men is the male (standing, second from left) pictured in Caire’s photograph. Also posing alongside him outside the bark-roofed dwelling are three of the community’s indigenous women and a young white girl, likely to be one of the three daughters of Daniel and Janet Matthews.
Davies & Stanbury (Mechanical Eye) record N.J. Caire as being active at his Darling Street address between 1885 and 1888.