Te Papa brings Kupe exhibition to Hawkes Bay

27 March 2015

A Te Papa touring exhibition celebrating a great Polynesian voyager's connections with New Zealand opens at the Hastings City Art Gallery tomorrow.

Kupe Sites - Ngā tapuwae o Kupe | Landmarks of the great voyager explores the story of Kupe, regarded by many iwi as the ancestor who discovered New Zealand.

The exhibition features 36 superb black and white photographs from the Te Papa collection, as well as video footage of kuia and kaumātua from four areas with strong links to Kupe; Northland, Wairarapa, the Wellington region, and the top of the South Island.

The exhibition is part of Te Papa’s broader programme to work with regional museums and galleries.

"It's important that people outside of Wellington are able to see the national treasures held at Te Papa. We work hard to extend our physical reach by touring exhibitions in regional museums and galleries", Te Papa's Chief Executive Rick Ellis says.

A Te Papa exhibition of photographer Brian Brake's work is also running at the Hastings City Art Gallery until 1 June.

"Hastings City Art Gallery has been fortunate to host a number of exhibitions with the support of Te Papa. We are delighted to bring this rich display to Hawke’s Bay", says Hastings City Art Gallery's Exhibition Coordinator Kirsten Kelly.

Kupe Sites has its origin in research undertaken for the exhibition Voyagers: Discovering the Pacific at Te Papa in 2002.

“Kupe was one of four notable Pacific voyagers whose achievements were celebrated in a 2002 Voyagers: Discovering the Pacific exhibition at Te Papa,” Te Papa’s Touring Exhibition Manager Aaron Te One says.

"Te Papa researchers, along with photographer Michael Hall, visited the four areas and worked with iwi there to record the stories", Mr Te One said.

The exhibition runs until 3 May.

See images from Kupe Sites

The legend of Kupe

Kupe is regarded by many iwi (tribes) as the ancestor who discovered this country. Some iwi tell the story of Kupe setting out from his homeland Hawaiki in pursuit of Te Wheke-a-Muturangi, a giant octopus. Others recount how Kupe, in love with his nephew's wife, took her husband fishing, left him out at sea to drown, then fled from the family’s vengeance.

Whether he was the pursuer or the pursued, Kupe and his stories are of immense importance to the many iwi who trace their whakapapa (genealogy) back through him. While the stories vary, they all celebrate a remarkable voyager who settled a new land and charted a route through the Pacific for later navigators to follow.

Media contact

Jenny Bridgen
Phone: 04 381 7752 or 022 0100 901