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.