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Centennial Exhibition souvenir badge

1940 Centennial hei tiki brooch
1940 Centennial hei tiki brooch circa 1940, Maker unknown. Purchased 2009. Te Papa

This badge typifies souvenirs from the 1939–40 New Zealand Centennial Exhibition. The exhibition celebrated 100 years of British government and European progress here. Maori history and the relevance of the Treaty of Waitangi were secondary.

Though not offensive, the badge offers a superficial view of Maori culture – traditional symbols like tiki had always appealed to the tourist eye. Maori involvement and representation in the exhibition was largely token, something that angered Member of Parliament Sir Apirana Ngata.

Ngata had a different way of marking New Zealand's centenary. He organised the building of a wharenui (meeting house) at Waitangi, involving iwi from around the country.

Read more about the Centennial Exhibition

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.