Māori/ Taonga Māori 

What can you tell me about Te Papa's waharoa in the Wellington foyer?

What is Te Marae o Te Papa Tongarewa?

What is the protocol on The Marae?

What is the pōwhiri (welcome)?

When does the kawa (protocol) change?

What can you tell me about the Mauri Stone in The Marae?

What can you tell me about Te Hau ki Tūranga?

What is Teremoe?

What is Te Aurere?

Where do Māori and Pacific Island people come from?

What is Matariki?

Where are toi moko, also called mokamōkai (tattooed, dried human heads)?

What can you tell me about Te Papa's waharoa in the Wellington foyer?

It is a fine example of a traditional waharoa, a gateway or entranceway. Te Papa’s waharoa was commissioned by Augustus Hamilton, the director of Te Papa's forebear, the Colonial Museum, for the New Zealand government.

In 1906, it featured in the New Zealand International Exhibition in Christchurch. Here it formed part of a double stockade which enclosed the exhibition's model pa, called Araiteuru.

The work was carried out by master carver Neke Kapua and his sons Tene and Eramiha, of Ngāti Tarawhai, a subtribe of Te Arawa of Rotorua. The waharoa is carved from a 22-metre single slab of tōtara that came from the central North Island.

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What is Te Marae o Te Papa Tongarewa?

Te Marae o Te Papa Tongarewa is a marae complex which includes:

  • An external entry, Te Ara a Tane
  • An internal entry, Te Ara a Hine
  • A waharoa (gateway) where visitors assemble before being welcomed on to The Marae
  • A meeting place, marae ātea, where Te Papa iwi kainga (Te Papa staff as hosts) welcome their visitors. There is an external and an internal marae ātea
  • The Ranginui door, which is part of a grand entrance to the internal marae ātea and the meeting house, Te Hono ki Hawaiki
  • A pounamu (greenstone) boulder, pounamu kaitiaki, a guardian for The Marae
  • Te Hono ki Hawaiki, a contemporary meeting house with traditional stories captured in a contemporary structure
  • Hinetītama, a separate room that serves as a place to provide visitors with food.

The name of The Marae is Rongomaraeroa, which encompasses all that is listed above. This complex serves as the heart of Te Papa. It is a welcoming place for all visitors where the chance to experience the richness of Māori culture, traditions, and customs is presented by iwi kainga o Te Papa Tongarewa, the staff of Te Papa Tongarewa.

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What is the protocol on The Marae?

Te Marae o Te Papa Tongarewa is a fully functional marae (meeting place) and observes all tikanga (rules and protocol) that is expected when the rituals of encounter take place within its complex.

The kawa (protocol) that is practised on The Marae is our way of doing things. It is done under the guidance of a Te Papa format or a format that is put in place by the iwi (tribe) whose exhibition is currently showing at Te Papa.

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What is the pōwhiri (welcome)?

The kawa (protocol) of The Marae includes the pōwhiri (welcome). This is a ceremony that occurs when Te Papa visitors are formally welcomed.

Manuhiri (visitors) assemble in a group outside the waharoa (gateway), and await the karanga (call) from tangata whenua (people of The Marae) or Te Papa iwi kainga (Te Papa staff) women to proceed on to The Marae. Following the tangata whenua karanga, visitor women respond with their karanga.

Both parties are then settled on their respective sides and an exchange of greetings takes place. The pāeke (tradition) is observed where all tangata whenua or iwi kainga orators lead off the greetings and speak one after the other. After that, all manuhiri orators respond one after the other.

At the end of the greeting, hosts and visitors join together in hongi (pressing of noses) and rūrū (handshakes). The final act to complete the formalities is the sharing of kai (food).

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When does the kawa (protocol) change?

When the kaumātua (elder) of the iwi (tribal) exhibition is in residence, their kawa (protocol) takes precedence on The Marae. In most cases, the pōwhiri format for visitors stays the same. The difference that may be put in place by iwi is the order of speaking between tangata whenua (people of The Marae) and manuhiri (visitor) orators. Some iwi have a tradition where orators speak alternately. This process is called tu atu, tu mai. There may also be other smaller tribal procedural differences.

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What can you tell me about the Mauri Stone in The Marae?

The greenstone is called Tongarewa. It is a large stone weighing more than one tonne.

The exterior of the boulder has a hard layer of what looks like compressed clay with the gem in the interior, formed over millions of years. When visitors arrive at the Museum, they are encouraged to go up to The Marae on Level 4 to rub the stone using small pebbles that surround the stone. It is hoped that over a period of time, the quality of the greenstone will be exposed due to rubbing by millions of visitors.

The stone was raised from the Arahura River on the West Coast of the South Island. A helicopter was used to lift it out.

Te Papa’s predecessor, the National Museum, approached the local iwi of Ngāi Tahu who went out and found the stone for the purposes of maintaining the mauri (life force) of the Museum. This happened in 1989. A ceremony was held between the Museum and Ngāi Tahu to bless the stone. It was presented as a kaitiaki (guardian) of the Museum.

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What can you tell me about Te Hau ki Tūranga?

Te Hau ki Tūranga is one of the Museum's most prized taonga. It was first exhibited in 1868 when it was moved from its home in Manutuke, just south of Gisborne and reassembled in the Colonial Museum on Museum Street, the forbear of Te Papa.

Te Hau ki Tūranga, or ‘the breezes of Tūranga’, is a wharenui (meeting house) built of tōtara. Here people met, slept, and recorded their history and art. It was built in the early 1840s by master carver Raharuhi Rukupō, of the Rongowhakaata iwi (tribe), as a memorial to his brother. It is one of the oldest and most significant carved houses in existence, and one of the first to be built using steel tools.

This meeting house of the Rongowhakaata people was taken out of a wall, which was its former location in the National Museum at Buckle Street, and brought to Te Papa for restoration using traditional methods and materials. It was then re-erected as a free-standing structure for the first time since its installation in the Buckle Street Museum by Apirana Ngata in 1936.

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What is Teremoe?

Teremoe is a famous waka taua (war canoe) from Whanganui. It is made from tōtara and can fit approximately thirty-three warriors. Teremoe was used in the land wars of the 1860s and was given to the Museum by the Hīpango family in the 1930s.

On 10 May 1997, Teremoe was moved from Buckle Street to Te Papa on Cable Street and was welcomed by iwi representatives and museum staff at a dawn ceremony.

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What is Te Aurere?

Te Aurere is a waka hourua (double-hulled voyaging canoe) that was built in 1991 and launched in January 1992 at Aurere, Doubtless Bay.

Te Aurere was built by Heke-nuku-mai-nga-iwi Puhipi (Hector Busby). He was inspired to build the waka after seeing the double-hulled Hawaiian voyaging canoe Hokule'a arrive from Hawai’i in Waitangi, Bay of Islands, on 8 December 1985.

The highly respected kaumatua Sir James Henare welcomed the crew of the Hokule'a saying: ‘You have shown that it can be done and it was done by our ancestors... It is my sincere wish that one day we may see our own waka returning to our historical homeland.’

Following extensive crew training and sea trials, Te Aurere sailed to Rarotonga in September 1992, using only traditional navigation methods, to participate in the sixth South Pacific Festival of the Arts. It made the return journey in November 1992.

Te Aurere has made many voyages into the Pacific since 1992, reconnecting with our Pacific relations and retracing old sea routes. Each voyage ends with distant families, who were left behind by our ancestors long ago, welcoming the crew back home.

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Where do Māori and Pacific Island people come from?

There are many theories about this. However, it is generally accepted that the ancestors of Polynesian people originated in Southeast Asia. These travellers and explorers were the first people to settle the islands of Melanesia, rapidly moving east into the islands that we now know as Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa. They later moved on into Eastern Polynesia (Marquesas and Society Islands), and then after some time they finally spread out to Hawai’i, Rapanui, the Cook Islands, and lastly New Zealand.

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What is Matariki?

The appearance of Matariki (Pleiades or the Seven Sisters) in our southern skies heralds the beginning of the Māori New Year. Matariki comprises a group of seven stars, also known as Te Kāhui ā Matariki (the constellation of Matariki), first appearing on the eastern horizon between the last week of May and mid-June.

To Māori, the stars were compass, chart, and chronometer dictating when to do things and why. The knowledge of the heavenly bodies was known as whānau mārama, and long hours were spent contemplating and studying the heavens. In the Māori calendar (maramataka), different seasons were recognized as were the phases of the moon.

Noting the appearance of Matariki in the sky was vital. If the stars in the cluster were clear and bright, it was thought that the year ahead would be warm and productive. It was during the appearance of Matariki that certain crops were planted, seasonal flora and fauna gathered, and ceremonial banquets and other festivities organised.

Today, festivities differ from iwi to iwi but Matariki is, for most, a rich and meaningful celebration, marking the beginning of the plentiful season.

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Where are the toi moko, also called mokamōkai (tattooed, dried human heads)?

The toi moko are deposited in Te Papa’s wāhi tapu (consecrated repository), along with all kōiwi tangata (Māori and Moriori human remains) and associated funerary objects such as waka kōiwi (carved burial chests).

In prehistoric times, full body and facial tattooing was practiced in Oceania, Asia, India, the Middle East, the Americas, Europe, and New Zealand.

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa does not consider kōiwi tangata to be collection items. Te Papa holds kaitiakitanga (guardianship) rights over these ancestral remains. They are treated like ancient and sacred relics with the utmost respect.

Artefacts or taonga (treasures) made from human bone, such as kōauau (flutes), are kept separate from kōiwi tangata and may be displayed in the appropriate cultural context.

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