Help with healing the hurt
A project nine years in the making, Tu te Whaihanga, an exhibition of sacred taonga opened at Tairawhiti Museum yesterday beginning with a pohiri at Kelvin Park.
Tairawhiti Museum director Eloise Wallace said it was a momentous occasion celebrating taonga coming home after 250 years.
“It was a marvellous day and wonderful to have Turanga iwi come together with distinguished guests including the Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and British High Commissioner Laura Clarke as well as hundreds of visitors to the museum.”
The return of 37 taonga includes some of those which left on board the HMS Endeavour, after its first voyage to Aotearoa in October 1769.
Taonga returning include eight painted hoe paddles, traded at sea off Whareongaonga (south of Turanganui-a-Kiwa) on October 12, 1769, and Te Poupou o Hinematioro from her whare on Te Pourewa Island on October 28, 1769.
Other taonga include rakau (weapons), kakahu (cloaks), tatua (belts), whakairo (carvings) and adornments.
Taonga are returning on loan from the British Museum; Pitt Rivers Museum University of Oxford; University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology; Great North Museum; Hancock and Tübingen University Museum, Germany.
Trustee of Te Runanga o Turanganui, Te Aitanga a Mahaki Trust and Parihimanihi Marae, Huia and husband Joe Pihema were responsible for bringing the taonga back to New Zealand.
They were delegated the responsibility to undertake the necessary rituals and required tikanga as kaitiaki of the taonga on behalf of Turanganui a Kiwa.
“Tu Te Whaihanga has been in the making for at least nine years. This is a legacy project where we hope to establish and develop good relationships with the current kaitiaki of our taonga,” said Huia Pihema, chair of the Hei Kanohi Ora Governance Group.
“We want our people to have the opportunity to tangi to our taonga, to consider our tipuna whom we lost during that time and to possibly help with healing the hurts of 250 years.”
A connection to the taonga was now being re-forged. Tu te Whaihanga was the result of the determination by Tairawhiti iwi for the taonga to return to reconnect with their descendants, to reclaim the knowledge they hold, and to sustain their legacy.