This chair is clear evidence of rural Scottish furniture making traditions being extended to New Zealand. It was made by a Highlander, Robert Sutherland, a bootmaker from Caithness who arrived in Dunedin in 1853 and subsequently settled at Waitepeka. He followed a traditional Caithness pattern and may in fact have brought parts of this chair with him from Scotland. The spindles, cross rails and yoke are more finely crafted than the rest of the chair and look to be made from British beech. The rest of the chair is made from New Zealand timbers; the seat from kahikatea and the dowel rails from manuka. It is low slung, reflecting the need to avoid the smoke layer in chimneyless Highland cottages. Sutherland made a pair of chairs and this one - which has no arms and is called a ‘nursing chair’ in old museum records - was probably for his wife.
Robert Sutherland
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