The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa has over 30,000 taonga (cultural treasures) registered in the Taonga Māori Collection.
This spans a diverse range of material, from the most highly prized tribal taonga - such as ancestral carvings, personal ornaments, garments, and weaponry - to ‘worked’ material such as fragments of flaked stone from archaeological excavations, bird bone, mammal bones, and shell.
Included in the collection is contemporary Māori visual culture that reflects our most current ideas about cultural identity, continuity, and change.
That ‘Te Papa Acknowledges Mana Taonga’ is one of six corporate principles informing the philosophy of Te Papa. Mana Taonga is a recognition of the power of taonga to communicate deep truths about our people.
Te Papa also ‘recognises the role of communities in enhancing the care and understanding of collections and taonga.’ Taonga in this sense embraces any cultural items of significance or value.
The Mana Taonga principle guides our direction and approach to access and research.
An important aspiration of the team who care for these objects is the reconnection of people to their tribal taonga. Another goal is, in its broadest sense, the reclamation of Māori knowledge, language, and customs.