Porirua taonga to re­turn home


An exhibition about the roots of the iwi Nga¯ti Toa is re­turn­ing home to Porirua amid ex­cite­ment and high ex­pec­ta­tions.

Whiti Te Ra¯: The Story of Nga¯ti Toa Ran­gatira, opens at Porirua’s Pa¯taka Art + Mu­seum on May 27 for a four-year show­ing.

Af­ter a two-year stint at Te Papa which closed in March 2017, it will de­but at Pa¯taka along­side Ka Mate, a doc­u­men­tary by film­maker Wiremu Grace about the iwi’s links to the haka.

Nga¯ti Toa kau­matua Taku Parai said the exhibition’s open­ing meant a lot.

‘‘It’s an amaz­ing op­por­tu­nity for the iwi to have their taonga back, and to have ad­di­tional taonga on dis­play – pri­vate taonga, wha¯nau taonga – and to have it back in Porirua so that our com­mu­nity can en­joy it. ‘‘We’re very ex­cited.’’ Parai ac­knowl­edged the work done in part­ner­ship with Porirua City Coun­cil and Pa¯taka Art + Mu­seum.

‘‘We’ve en­joyed ev­ery step of it, and we look for­ward to the open­ing.’’

The exhibition pieces were all as im­por­tant as each other, Parai said, al­low­ing peo­ple to un­der­stand the his­tory and where the taonga fit into it.

‘‘They tell sto­ries of events, peo­ple, times, and par­tic­u­larly the peo­ple that are as­so­ci­ated with them.’’

The exhibition charts Nga¯ti Toa’s story, from Te Heke Mai Raro (the South­ern Mi­gra­tion) from Kawhia in 1821 to the 20th and 21st cen­tury re­dress for in­jus­tices, fea­tur­ing the iwi’s rise and colo­nial-era set­backs in be­tween.

The three-sec­tion dis­play will in­clude Te Rau­paraha’s pipe, a kaitaka paepaeroa or cloak from the Te Papa col­lec­tion worn by his son, con­tri­bu­tions from Porirua wha¯nau, and maihi or barge boards from the front of the former Taka­puwahia marae.

Pa¯taka di­rec­tor Reuben

Friend said it was an as­set for the 20-year-old mu­seum. The items were a mix of pri­vately-loaned items, items from Nga¯ti Toa fam­i­lies and from Te Papa and Pa¯taka’s col­lec­tions, he said.

‘‘It’s good for us, 20 years down the line, to fi­nally put in a per­ma­nent Maori iwi exhibition, so that the Maori el­e­ments, the Maori his­tory of Porirua are recorded.

‘‘It means that peo­ple can come here and get a real sense of what it means to be from Porirua.’’

Porirua Mayor Mike Tana said the exhibition would be a ma­jor draw­card for Pa¯taka.

‘‘There has been some ma­jor ren­o­va­tion work there and it’s great to now see the ex­hi­bi­tions open.

‘‘The Nga¯ti Toa exhibition is some­thing ev­ery­one in Porirua should see, to get more un­der­stand­ing of the mana whenua and how im­por­tant they are in this area’s his­tory.’’

Parai will lead a bless­ing at the open­ing, and sev­eral other Ma¯ori and indigenous Aus­tralian art ex­hi­bi­tions will also be opened on the day.

Friend said the open­ing posed a new op­por­tu­nity for Pa¯taka af­ter be­ing closed for con­struc­tion for sev­eral months.

‘‘We can kind of reaf­firm that Pa¯taka has a strong fo­cus on indigenous cul­tures from the Pa­cific.’’

Kau­matua Taku Parai next to Te Rau­paraha’s fa­mous mere, Tuhi­wai. Left, a draw­ing of the Nga¯ti Toa chief.

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