Te Papa marks 175th anniversary of signing of Treaty of Waitangi

28 January 2015

Te Papa’s programme to mark the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi starts tomorrow evening with our annual treaty debate.

“As guardian of New Zealand’s taonga and stories, Te Papa is proud to mark this important milestone in our history,” says Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis.

The programme includes:

  • New content in the permanent exhibition Treaty of Waitangi: Signs of a Nation/Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Ngā tohu kotahitanga. This includes four new taonga belonging to chiefs who signed the Treaty – Pūmuka’s flag, Mohi Tāwhai’s hoeroa, Patuone’s mere-pounamu, and Wāka Nene’s taiaha.
  • A treaty settlements debate Healing the Past, Building a Future featuring Matiu Rei, Jamie Tuuta, Rahui Papa and Peter Douglas, and chaired by Susie Ferguson from Radio New Zealand (Thursday January 29).
  • Public and family activities at Te Papa on Waitangi Day including live portraits, shell painting, feather dipping, and ink yourself moko.

Te Papa’s Head of Research, Dame Dr Claudia Orange says this year is also significant as it is effectively 20 years since the treaty settlement process was established.

“Historical settlements have gone some way towards righting the disastrous effects of New Zealand’s history by building Māori community strength. The post-settlement world holds great promise for iwi as well as for the country as a whole,” Dame Claudia says.

Te Papa also plays a critical role in the work of treaty settlements and is currently working with 33 iwi claimant groups at different stages of the settlement process. It is expected that another 48 groups will seek engagement over the next two years as treaty settlements progress.

“Te Papa’s role in the treaty settlements process is about actively assisting iwi claimant groups with their cultural heritage aspirations. Sharing information, knowledge and experience with iwi connects Te Papa with our communities. Reconnecting taonga back to their descendant kin communities is of immense value, as are the enduring relationships being established,” Te Papa’s Kaihautū Dr Arapata Hakiwai says.

Media contact:

Rachael Bruce, Te Papa Senior Communications Adviser
04 381 7071 or 029 601 0010

Notes to editors:

  • Dame Claudia Orange is available for media interviews about general Treaty of Waitangi history.
  • Dr Arapata Hakiwai is available for media interviews about Te Papa’s role in cultural redress for treaty settlements.
  • Conservators and curators are available for media interviews about the new taonga on display.
  • Media are welcome to attend the Treaty debate tomorrow night at 6.30pm in Te Papa’s Soundings Theatre but need to register their attendance in advance.

More information on the 2015 treaty debate.

New taonga in the Treaty of Waitangi: Signs of a Nation | Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Nga tohu kotahitanga permanent exhibition

Pūmuka’s flag
James Busby, who helped draft the Treaty of Waitangi, reportedly gave this flag (2.6m wide, 1.5m high) to Northland chief Pūmuka in gratitude for his support. Pūmuka had been involved in selecting an official flag for Aotearoa New Zealand in 1834. In 1835, he signed the Declaration of Independence, which asserted the country’s independent status but asked for British protection.

Pūmuka was the 6th signatory to the Treaty of Waitangi and encouraged Northland chiefs to follow suit. But he soon became disillusioned with the government’s failure to honour its Treaty promises. In 1845, he joined Ngāpuhi leader Hōne Heke in the battle of Kororāreka. Pūmuka was the first Māori chief of distinction to be killed in this war between Māori and the Crown. He died in dramatic combat with a British Commander. His flag was passed down through several generations of the Pūmuka family who used it for special occasions before it was gifted to the museum in 1960.

More information on Pūmuka’s flag

Mohi Tāwhai’s hoeroa (whale-bone staff)
Mohi Tāwhai signed the Treaty of Waitangi at Hokianga on 12 February 1840. Like many of the signatories, he was clear-sighted about the pros and cons of the agreement. Having signed, and despite his misgivings, Tāwhai remained committed to the Treaty and gave loyal support to the British Crown, even as an ally on the battlefield.

More information on Mohi Tāwhai's hoeroa

Eruera Māihi Patuone’s mere pounamu (greenstone weapon) and Tāmati Wāka Nene’s taiaha (fighting staff)
These taonga belonged to Eruera Māihi Patuone and his brother, Tāmati Wāka Nene who were key British allies. During the long debates at Waitangi on 5 February 1840, the pair helped to sway the majority of chiefs in favour of the Treaty.

At the signing the next day, Patuone presented this mere pounamu (greenstone weapon) to Governor Hobson. It was a gesture of trust and commitment and meant much more than his signature alone.

More information on Eruera Māihi Patuone’s mere pounamu (greenstone weapon)

More information on Tāmati Wāka Nene’s taiaha (fighting staff)