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Spotlight on the world’s oldest surviving whare whakairo, Te Hau ki Tūranga

Mon 25 Mar 2019

Iwi from around the country will gather in Tūranganui-ā-Kiwa | Gisborne this week to share kaupapa of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) at the Tūhonohono conference.

The journey of Te Hau ki Tūranga, the world’s oldest whare whakairo (carved house), will be the focus of kōrero. The wharenui is on display at Te Papa and is the centrepiece of the iwi exhibition Ko Rongowhakaata Ruku i te Pō, Ruku i te Ao : The Story of Light and Shadow. Rongowhakaata is currently iwi in residence at Te Papa.

Built in the early 1840s by Rongowhakaata under the jurisdiction of master carver Raharuhi Rukupo, and wrongfully confiscated by the Crown in 1867, Te Hau ki Tūranga was then held by the Colonial Museum, displayed at the Dominion Museum and moved to Te Papa where it has been displayed since 1998.  In 2012, as part of Rongowhakaata’s Treaty of Waitangi settlement, the New Zealand government apologised to the iwi for the forcible removal of Te Hau ki Tūranga, stating that the whare whakairo belongs to them.

Craftsman working on a marae

Caption

Te Hau ki Turanga, 2015. Photograph by Kate Whitley. Te Papa (48302)

Iwi experts speaking at Tūhonohono will exchange insights and experience to build on the body of knowledge that Rongowhakaata is developing on the repatriation, restoration and protection of taonga. 

The two day conference to be held at Te Poho o Rawiri, is being co-hosted by Rongowhakaata and Te Papa’s National Services Te Paerangi.

Speakers will include Te Papa Kaihautū Dr Arapata Hakiwai, Rongowhakaata Pou Tikanga, Taharākau Stewart, Charlotte Gibson talking on the restoration of Te Poho o Rawiri and Dr Wayne Ngata and Hera Gibson discussing the Te Aitanga a Hauiti taonga digitisation project.

International speaker Shannon Martin (Lynx Clan), Director of award-winning American Indian Museum the Ziibiwing Center, will give insight into the creation of the indigenous cultural development centre, in Michigan.

Dr Hakiwai says the conference is a valuable forum for iwi from across Aotearoa.

“Tūhonohono is a forum for iwi to share the kaupapa of kaitiekitanga, to wānanga the challenges, the opportunities and the mātauranga that are inherent in taonga,” he says.
Iwi culture and heritage experts at Tūhonohono will also be providing first hand advice and insight into conservation and managing taonga held within the care of a community.

Iwi Cultural Centres are quickly emerging in Aotearoa. It is exciting to see iwi creating their own spaces to tell their stories, and bring their taonga home,” Dr Hakiwai says.

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust Chairperson, Moera Brown says the wealth of knowledge at Tūhonohono will be exceptional.

“Knowledge is incredibly powerful, and Tūhonohono is a unique opportunity to bring iwi together and to kōrero about our experiences and learnings.”

Tūhonohono runs from Thursday 28 March to Fri 29 March 2019, 9.00am–4.30pm, at Te Poho o Rāwiri Marae, Tūranganui-ā-Kiwa | Gisborne. Register here.

Notes to editors

About Tūhonohono i ngā Taonga ā-Iwi: Te Hau

Tūhonohono i ngā taonga ā-iwi translates as infinite connection of iwi and their Taonga. It is a bi-annual conference.

The conference is for people who are involved with iwi cultural centres, the preservation of iwi culture and built heritage, kaitieki of taonga, and iwi development. It is also for those who have a general interest in these areas and would like to learn more.

The Tūhonohono i ngā Taonga ā-Iwi 2019 conference is being held in Tairāwhiti in partnership with Rongowhakaata, current iwi-in-residence at Te Papa.

Read more about the conference

About National Services Te Paerangi

Te Papa’s National Services Te Paerangi works in partnership with museums, galleries, and iwi offering a range of practical and strategic programmes aimed at strengthening the sector.   For more information read here.

Te Papa exhibition Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow

Major Te Papa exhibition Ko Rongowhakaata Ruku i te Pō, Ruku i te Ao : The Story of Light and Shadow, showcases the dramatic stories, histories, treasured taonga and the exceptional artistry of the Gisborne iwi.

This is the eighth iwi exhibition programme since Te Papa opened in 1998.

The theme of light and shadow refers to the impact of light on the East Coast landscape and its influence on Rongowhakaata creative expression. This can be seen in the high relief of the iwi’s carving, for which it’s renowned.  

The world’s oldest surviving whare whakairo (carved meeting house), Te Hau ki Tūranga, sits at the heart of the exhibition.  Built in the early 1840s and wrongfully confiscated by the Crown in 1867, Te Hau ki Tūranga was then held by the Colonial Museum, displayed at the Dominion Museum and moved to Te Papa where it has been displayed since 1998. 

In 2012, as part of Rongowhakaata’s Treaty of Waitangi settlement, the New Zealand Government apologised for the forcible removal of Te Hau ki Tūranga, stating that the whare whakairo belongs to Rongowhakaata.

Throughout the course of the two and a half year exhibition Rongowhakaata will start restoration work of the precious taonga.

Te Papa Kaihautū, Dr Arapata Hakiwai says "The return of Te Hau ki Tūranga rests with the iwi and we are committed towards actively assisting Rongowhakaata's cultural heritage aspirations. The decision as to whether Te Hau ki Tūranga will remain at Te Papa or return to Gisborne is in the iwi’s hands and has yet to be made."

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust Chairperson, Moera Brown says “Increasing our capacity, strengthening our capability and growing our resource to ensure the ongoing care and maintenance of Te Hau ki Turanga can be upheld by Rongowhakaata is paramount to ensuring we have the option of bringing our whare home.”

“Rongowhakaata is blessed to have an exemplar of Master Craftmanship in Te Hau ki Turanga that as we learn more about how this house was built we learn more about ourselves.”

More about the exhibition

Shannon Martin

Shannon Martin (Lynx Clan) is the director of the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways – The Midwest’s Premier Award-Winning American Indian Museum. Shannon leads a team that addresses cultural and historic preservation, repatriation and reburial of ancestral remains, artistic expression and promotion, Tribal collections and archival conservation, cultural resource management, Ojibwe language revitalization, exhibition development, protection of intellectual property, and stewardship of Saginaw Chippewa Tribal cemeteries, burial grounds and sacred sites.

Images

Dropbox images with credit and captions

Media contact

Te Papa
Ellie Campbell, Ellie.Campbell@tepapa.govt.nz, 029 601 0120

Rongowhakaata Iwi Trust
Beck Waihape, beck.waihape@rongowhakaata.iwi.nz, 021 0246 1099