Te Ata o Tū The Shadow of Tūmatauenga: The New Zealand Wars Collections of Te Papa

Accessible, important guide to the taonga relating to the New Zealand wars held by Te Papa.

By Matiu Baker, Katie Cooper, Michael Fitzgerald, and Rebecca Rice

Publication date: March 2024
NZ RRP (incl. GST): $70
Extent: 480 pages
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-9941460-8-3

Buy Te Ata o Tū The Shadow of Tūmutuenga

The wars of 1845–72 were described by James Belich as ‘bitter and bloody struggles, as important to New Zealand as were the Civil Wars to England and the United States’. The conflict’s themes of land and sovereignty continue to resonate today.

This richly illustrated book, developed in partnership with iwi, delves into Te Papa’s Mātauranga Māori, History and Art collections to explore taonga and artefacts intimately connected with the key events and players associated with the New Zealand Wars, sparking conversation and debate and shedding new light on our troubled colonial past.

Contributing essays from Basil Keane, Arini Loader, Danny Keenan, Jade Kake, Mike Ross, Paul Meredith, Monty Soutar, Puawai Cairns, and Ria Hall.

Look inside Te Ata o Tū The Shadow of Tūmatuenga

Review highlights

  • Kete Books, reviewed by David Veart. “Often, books of this kind, driven by collections from museums, carry the echoes of the institutions that formed them. This selection, however, transcends its colonial origins literally in ‘The Colonial Museum’ creating a powerful narrative using the artefacts woven together with subtle curation and a strong Māori voice, a voice which doesn't simply murmur ‘ghostly’ echoes from the past but instead speaks truth powerfully into the present. … I started reading Te Ata o Tū anticipating another ‘history in 500 objects’ picture book but have found much, much more. As someone with forebears who fought in these wars this book has provided a more complex framework to make sense of this history.” 

  • RNZ Nine to Noon, reviewed by Paul Diamond. “I think Rebecca Rice’s material and Matiu Baker’s material really stands out – Rebecca’s ability to interrogate images, Matiu is able to communicate the complexities of taonga and their significance for descendants. So that’s also what’s lovely in this, that this book represents a whole lot of relationships through time that Te Papa has brokered and which then endure.”

Author interviews

About the authors

Matiu Baker (Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Āti Awa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Whakaue) is Curator Mātauranga Māori at Te Papa and has a broad interest in the many areas of Mātauranga Māori. His recent research has included work on Māori photographs and photography of Māori in nineteenth-century New Zealand.

Katie Cooper is Curator New Zealand Histories and Cultures at Te Papa. Her research focus is the social and material history of nineteenth-century New Zealand. She has been working to highlight women’s histories in Te Papa’s collections and develop collections that represent the everyday lives of New Zealanders. She is also engaged in ongoing research into the social history of rural New Zealand.

Michael Fitzgerald is a Te Papa Research Associate. He was a Curator of History at Te Papa and its predecessors (the Dominion and National Museums) from 1971 until his retirement in 2016. In his earlier years at the Museum, Michael was the sole-charge Curator of Colonial History, responsible for the Museum’s diverse collections of historical artefacts, including many objects and documents relating to the histories and technologies of the New Zealand Wars. Researching these artefacts and the stories behind them has long been and continues to be a topic of special interest to him.

Rebecca Rice is Curator Historical New Zealand Art at Te Papa. She specialises in the field of colonial New Zealand art, with a particular interest in the histories of collecting, exhibition, and display. Her current research focuses on the visual culture of the New Zealand Wars, and the impact of impressionism on New Zealand artists at home and abroad.