Te Papa takes next step in Te Tiriti exhibition

Te Papa has replaced the display panel in its exhibition Te Tiriti o Waitangi: Ngā tohu kotahitanga | Treaty of Waitangi: Signs of a Nation.

The wooden panel, showing an English version of te Tiriti, was spraypainted in a protest action on 11 December 2023.

It was replaced on 23 April with a new temporary display, which will remain in place while the museum embarks on a full-scale transformation of this exhibition space.

In the temporary display, a large-scale video projection highlights differences between te Tiriti in te reo Māori and Captain William Hobson’s 1840 English version, and points to a 1988 translation by Professor Sir Hugh Kawharu, which is considered much closer to the understanding of Māori who signed te Tiriti.

The 5-minute video can be viewed here Treaty of Waitangi: Signs of a Nation. Media are welcome to share/reproduce the exhibition video. This is a link enabling video to be embedded: https://vimeo.com/937463777/37b8d45963.

Signage in the exhibition references the 2023 protest action. Other elements of the exhibition remain as they were, including the panel of te Tiriti in te reo Māori and the taonga on display.

The change to the exhibition space was made overnight on Monday 22 April with the support of Mana Whenua.

Te Papa co-leaders Kaihautū Dr Arapata Hakiwai and Tumu Whakarae Courtney Johnston said the digital display would be a valuable for visitors from Aotearoa and abroad.

“This digital display will help visitors deepen their understanding and foster informed conversations.”

“Our focus now is on the process to develop the permanent exhibition.”

“We are looking to totally transform the space to create an experience of te Tiriti that is relevant for our audiences today, and in the future.”

This is an exciting opportunity for the nation to have a conversation about our history, our present and our future, particularly as we look towards the 200th anniversary of te Tiriti o Waitangi in 2040.”

“Involving iwi, academics, experts and communities will be essential to create an exhibition that reflects Aotearoa New Zealand today.”

Mana whenua led a karakia before the work began in the exhibition space. Ngāti Toa Rangatira placed a kōhatu mauri (mauri stone) in the space, and Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika placed a raukura (plume of feathers).

Callum Kātene, Chair of Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira said: “Ngāti Toa is supportive of Te Papa’s desire to revisit and redesign the Te Tīriti O Waitangi exhibition. The meaning and relevance of our founding document is highly topical right now, so providing a fresh view to inform contemporary conversations is important. Just as important is the inclusion of a wide representation of relevant voices, such as Tīriti signatory representatives and historical and other academic experts. We are delighted Te Papa has agreed to make this happen.”

Te Papa announced in December last year that the panel would remain on display over the summer break then be removed.

“Keeping the panel in place temporarily has led to some valuable conversations, but it is right that we change the space now, and take this step towards the development of a brand-new exhibition,” said Te Papa co-leaders Courtney Johnston and Dr Arapata Hakiwai.

The removed panel will be stored by the museum. No decision has been made about its future.


Media contact: Kate Camp, kate.camp@tepapa.govt.nz, 029 601 0180