Prized 19th-cen­tury arte­facts are among iwi treasures that have re­turned to the Wairarapa.

North & South - - In This Issue - SHARON STEPHEN­SON

Prized 19th-cen­tury arte­facts re­turn to the Wairarapa.

It’s taken more than 110 years but an elab­o­rately carved wa­haika ( hand weapon) has fi­nally come home – one of 200 items on dis­play in Te Marae o Ron­go­take­take: Re­dress­ing our Kahun­gunu His­tory, at Master­ton’s Ara­toi Mu­seum un­til Septem­ber 3.

Ex­hi­bi­tion cu­ra­tor Haami Te Whaiti says this is the largest col­lec­tion of Ngati Kahun­gunu taonga ever as­sem­bled. “Most were sourced from the mu­seum’s own col­lec­tion and from around New Zealand, but we’ve also brought back items such as the wa­haika from the Fowler Mu­seum in Los Angeles.”

The wa­haika was carved from cel­lu­loid (a sub­sti­tute for bone) by Ja­cob He­ber­ley in the late 19th cen­tury for Grey­town’s Pa­pawai Marae, be­fore be­ing pre­sented to the 5th Earl of Ran­furly, Uchter Knox, who served as Gov­er­nor-Gen­eral in New Zealand from 1897-1904. It was later sold to the Well­come Trust in London, and then given to the Fowler Mu­seum in the 1960s, among a col­lec­tion of some 30,000 pieces from all over the world. Other arte­facts on dis­play at Ara­toi in­clude waka, tra­di­tional cloaks, con­tem­po­rary works and 11 Got­tfried Lin­dauer por­traits.

Ngati Kahun­gunu is the third­largest tribal group in New Zealand. Work on cat­a­logu­ing the taonga be­gan four years ago, and the ex­hi­bi­tion aligns with the sign­ing of the iwi’s treaty set­tle­ment deed for 2.5 mil­lion acres, one of the largest land claims in the North Is­land.

“It’s been a 30-year process, but we are pleased to be able to end it at the mu­seum,” says Te Whaiti, one of the set­tle­ment ne­go­tia­tors.

He says the ex­hi­bi­tion fo­cuses on the fu­ture, as well as the past. “It’s about who we are as Kahun­gunu, about coloni­sa­tion and the tak­ing of our land, as well as our fu­ture as­pi­ra­tions.”

A ko­rere or feed­ing gourd from the Puken­gaki area (Auck­land Mu­seum).

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