Exhibition of taonga opens in Waipawa

In one of New Zealand’s oldest inland towns, Waipawa, founded in 1860, stands the historic BNZ building (circa 1887), which is now the Central Hawke’s Bay Settlers Museum. The museum has recently opened its exhibition of local taonga Maori “Ngā Taonga o Tamatea – Te Hokinga Mai: The Treasures of Tamatea – The Returning”. Dedicated to artefacts from Central Hawke’s Bay, the aim is to build relationships between the museum, local iwi and the Taiwhenua. The Director of MTG, Laura Vodanovich, and I attended the opening last Saturday.

The crowd were ushered in at 5.30am to follow the Tohunga chanting his prayers, evoking the protection of the gods of old. Listening, looking, walking past the exhibits: a moa-hunter toki found in Putere Creek Porangahau, and a koruru from the top of the meeting house Te Poho o Kahungunu which stood at Porangahau in a time far extinct. These and other valuable objects, hei tiki, taiaha, patu, all on exhibition:a link to the past of Central Hawke’s Bay.

Following back outside, protocol was adhered to with tangata whenua welcoming manuhiri and thanking those who worked on the exhibition. Dr Roger Maaka, Chairperson of the Kahungunu Tamatea Taiwhenua was the first to address everyone. In his welcome he spoke of the importance of this exhibition to the local people of Central Hawke’s Bay. As the first exhibition of its type at the CHB Settlers Museum, Roger noted it was just a start and would continue and build into the future. He applauded Jana Uhlirova, Curator and Manager of the CHB Settlers Museum, for her initiative and tenacity in producing this exhibition, which gathered taonga from MTG Hawke’s Bay, Te Papa Tongarewa, and from private collections. Her worship the Mayor Alex Walker also spoke on the importance of such an exhibition, the bridging of connections between local iwi, the community, the museum, and the Council. Rangitane Don Tipene also spoke on his voluntary work alongside Jana, identifying and collecting artifacts, mounting them for display and developing the labels to sit alongside each item. Don also worked on ensuring the correct information was available when showing groups through the exhibition and has been busy with school groups since. It is his way of giving from a hapū tangata whenua perspective and ensuring knowledge is passed on to future generations.

A role of MTG Hawke’s Bay Napier is to conserve, protect, and document the more than 6500 taonga Māori that are in the collection. A substantial collection for any museum let alone a provincial museum, and very valuable. This involves a duty to share with other museums in Aotearoa, to help exhibit these taonga Māori for iwi of all, and collaborate closely with other Hawke’s Bay museums such as the CHB Settlers Museum and their “Nga Taonga o Tamatea – Te Hokinga Mai” exhibition, showing until 1st March 2019. Mauriora kia tātau, tātau us.

Opening Nga Taonga1

  • The Architectural Legacy of J. A. Louis Hay exhibition opens to the public today. Saturday, 8 December.
  • Behind the Scenes Tour: Feeling Festive. From historic Christmas greeting cards to paintings of sunny summer days, celebrate the festive season with a look at the collection. Tuesday, 11 December, 12pm. Free event. Spaces are limited, please register at eventfinda.
  • Digital Technologies & Computer Science Teacher Professional Learning Event. Free one-day interactive workshop for Y9 & 10 Teachers of any discipline. Wednesday, 12 December, 9.30am – 2.30pm. Limited to 30 teachers, please contact

    Helena.Botes@tepapa.govt.nz if you have any questions or would like to register.


Te Hira Henderson, Curator Taonga Māori, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 8 December 2018


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s