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Te Papa to return treasures gifted to Captain Cook to Hawai'i

16 February 2016

A priceless feather cloak and helmet gifted to Captain Cook in 1779 are being returned to Hawai’i by Te Papa.

A ceremony at Te Papa on Friday March 11th will welcome the Hawaiian delegation who will uplift the taonga.

The 'ahu'ula (cloak) and mahiole (helmet) were a gift from Hawaiian Chief Kalani‘ōpu‘u to Captain James Cook, and have been in Te Papa's collection since being gifted to the national museum in 1912.

The March 11th ceremony is open to media and promises to be a spectacular and emotional  occasion, as a Hawaiian delegation is welcomed onto the marae to receive their treasures and take them home.

The cloak and helmet will then travel back to Hawaii on a special Hawaiian Airlines flight, and will be welcomed in a formal Hawaiian ceremony on 17 March. They will go on display in the Bishop Museum in Hawai’i from 19th March.

These stunning feather garments are among the most significant treasures in Hawaiian history, and have an incredible story to tell about the history of the Pacific.

For more information see the statement below from the Bishop Museum, Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Te Papa.

Feathered cloak made of plant fibre and feather, 1700s


'ahu 'ula ( feathered cloak) 1700s, Maker unknown, Hawaii. Gift of Lord St Oswald, 1912. Te Papa

Helmet made of feather, cane (split aerial roots of 'ie'ie) and fibre (olona), 1700s


Mahiole (Helmet) 1700s, Maker unknown, United States. Gift of Lord St Oswald, 1912. Te Papa


Media contacts

Hawaii: Andrea Oka, Stryker Weiner & Yokota Public Relations, Inc.
Ph: (808) 523-8802, ext. 219 andrea@strykerweiner.com

New Zealand: Kate Camp, Te Papa Communications Manager
Ph: 09 601 0180 (+64 29 6010180) kate.camp@tepapa.govt.nz