New Zealand Wars mini exhibition to open at Te Papa for the inaugural commemorative day

24 October 2017 – Te Papa marks the first national day of commemoration of the New Zealand Wars, Rā Maumahara, with a new mini exhibition.

24 October 2017

Te Papa marks the first national day of commemoration of the New Zealand Wars, Rā Maumahara, with a new mini exhibition.

Rā Maumahara | New Zealand Wars will open on Friday 27 October – a day prior to the official remembrance date set by the New Zealand Government – and will be on show for six months.

Puawai Cairns, Acting Head of Mātauranga Māori at Te Papa, acknowledges the importance of the national commemoration – Rā Maumahara.

“This official day of remembrance will prompt our country to discuss this relatively untold yet deeply significant period of our history,” she says. “This exhibition is our contribution to these important commemorations. It’s a starting point and introduction to the New Zealand Wars, and our contribution to a meaningful dialogue about our shared ancestral histories.”

The New Zealand Wars took place primarily across the central North Island between the 1840s and 1870s. Māori were defending their land and authority from ever-imposing government forces. Thousands were killed. The wars displaced and impoverished Māori for generations and established colonial New Zealand. The ramifications of those terrible battles continue to this day.

Te Papa’s exhibition offers a snapshot of the most explosive and sustained period of conflict in the New Zealand Wars, from 1860–72, in and around Taranaki, Waikato and Tauranga.

“As Te Papa renews all of its permanent exhibition spaces over the next few years, we will further develop our representation of this vital part of our nation’s history,” says Puawai Cairns.

Made up of 15 taonga (objects) and 120 digital images, the exhibition provides an opportunity to discover some of the people, the weapons, and their stories from this time.

Matiu Baker, Curator Historic Māori Visual Materials and Rebecca Rice, Curator Historical New Zealand Art, who both worked on the exhibition, say they have endeavoured to bring some of the humanitarian and compassionate stories of this enduring conflict to light.

Image for media use

Caption: William Strutt, View of Mt Egmont, Taranaki, New Zealand, taken from New Plymouth, with Maoris driving off settlers’ cattle, 1861, oil on canvas. Purchased 2015. Te Papa (2015-0042-1)