Ngati Toa

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On the way to the Ngati Toa exhibition in Te Papa, if you look up, you’ll see this wonderful piece of art by Ralph Hotere and Bill Culpert. It’s a fitting kind of overview to a very good exhibition.

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For me the exhibition worked – but maybe because some of the faces and voices are familiar. I live in Porirua.

The space is the same womb-like space provided for all iwi exhibitions. While I like the symbollism of the womb, I do find it a bit restricting.

From the beginning we hear the haka “ka mate’ and its story is told in a piece of video/movie in the multi-media room. It’s a great story that needs to be told and by the people who own the haka. As an aside, hearing and seeing it in its home marae, Takapuwahia and Hongoeka or at tangi is a wonderful, goose-bump making thing.

I enjoyed the map with audio and text stories of the move from Kawhia to Porirua but was a bit frustrated that all the buttons either didn’t work or didn’t have stories related to them. I wondered if the numbers on the wall panels related to the numbers on the map?

People are represented and Rangi Toperoa (one of the few women who signed the Treaty/Tiriti) is prominent with an image, her cloak and huia feathers that were probably hers. Again we see Te Rauparaha’s mere and read the story of Rangihaeta, the incarceration of Te Rauparaha, and of high interest to me, the background to the story of Tapu te Ranga.

Pou in the centre of the exhibition show where the Treaty was signed with copies of the signatures of the signers.

I exited past images of the elders who have been involved in the Treaty negotiations. I felt that I knew a bit more about the stories and had seen one the most beautiful hei tiki I have seen, once owned by Wi Parata. I felt, too, that I had made some more connections.

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