Aratoi walk-thru with Haami TeWhaiti
Haami Te Whaiti welcomes everyone to ‘Te Marae o Rongotaketake – Redressing Our Kahungunu History,’ the exhibition until early September that portrays the Nga¯ti Kahungunu Treaty of Waitangi Settlement for the Wairarapa and Ta¯maki nui-a-Rua. ’’The term ‘Rongotaketake’ is the concept of an ‘enduring peace’ that our people have held very strongly since the very early times of colonisation,’’ says Haami. ‘‘Here, we use the concept as an enduring treaty settlement, as a place of learning, and our people building Te Rongotaketake Marae in 1859 for the Kı¯ngitanga movement – our first political protest.
‘‘We researched our taonga nationally and internationally; this exhibition represents just a selection. Museums have been forthright in making artefacts available, and while it’d be lovely to keep some of the taonga from other museums more permanently, we appreciate having them at Aratoi for these few months.’’
The exhibition’s sequencing follows the pohiri or welcoming process used on a marae. The entry has the same kowhaiwhai patterns seen in porches of the area’s Kahungunu meeting houses and lead to a large photograph of the gifting of Lake Wairarapa at Pa¯pa¯wai Marae in 1896. ‘‘Our people understood we’d retain control of the lake’s resources… now some of that promise has been kept – the lake’s coming back to us! A fresh beginning.’’
In this next gallery, ‘‘we acknowledge those who have departed; these 21 photos are of people who have been directly involved in our settlement over the past 30 years.’’
There they are, in a darkened space – 11 Lindauer portraits. ‘‘When some of these portraits were exhibited at Auckland Art Gallery recently, the curator told me the Wairarapa portraits are quite unique in that they’re painted for the subjects themselves whereas many Lindauer portraits were commissioned by a third party.
Finally, in Tom Donald’s portraits of the negotiations team shot at 7pm over 7 days at 7 locations around the rohe, ‘‘…the land/seascapes from Palliser Bay to Dannevirke are as important, or more important, than the individuals.’’
This article is an abridged version of a recent interview with Haami Te Whaiti on Arrow 92.7 FM (www.arrowfm.co.nz).
Exhibition Curator Haami Te Whaiti at Matakitakia-Kupe