12 December 2006
Mauri Ora: Treasures from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa – Tokyo National Museum, Japan
Mauri Ora: Treasures from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa will be exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum in
Japan from 22 January to 18 March 2007.
The exhibition, the largest collection of traditional Mäori taonga (treasures) to leave New Zealand shores since Te
Mäori in 1984, will be opened with a traditional Mäori Dawn Ceremony on 22 January 2007, attended by the Mäori King
Tuheitia Paki, on his first overseas engagement. The Hon. Mahara Okeroa, Associate Minster for Arts, Culture and
Heritage will also be participating. The Dawn Ceremony will involve Mäori warriors and kaumatua (mäori elders) walking
through the pre-dawn streets to the Tokyo National Museum then through the exhibition. Tokyo National Museum will host a
further function later that afternoon.
Mauri Ora brings to the Japanese public for the first time some of the glories of Te Papa’s Mäori collections. The
taonga range from items with early Pacific connections, to unique carvings, and other ceremonial items, as well as
weapons, waka huia (treasure boxes), jewellery and woven käkahu (clothing). The exhibition also features taonga used by
tohunga (ancestral experts), including ceremonial adzes, puppets for ritual use, and items associated with the practice
of tä moko (tattooing).
The exhibition begins with a large mauri (life force) stone of pounamu (greenstone) - the spiritual anchor of the
exhibition. The exhibition includes spectacular large-scale structures, including the facade of a tribal wharenui
(meeting house), a reconstructed carved pätaka (storehouse), and outstanding carvings from waka taua (war canoes). The
facade of the meeting house Tokopikowhakahau is a dramatic presence in the exhibition, carved in the late 1870s in the
The centre point of the exhibition is a 6.5 metre carving known as a whakamaumaharatanga, which was once the hull of a
waka (canoe) called Te Koanga-o-Rehua. In the 1800s, it was carved into a burial marker for a Whanganui rangatira
(chief) named Te Mahutu and stood for many years at Pipiriki, 79 km from Wanganui.
“With the support of iwi throughout New Zealand, we are delighted to be able to share these taonga (Mäori treasures)
with the people of Japan in their national museum. We hope this exhibition leads to a greater understanding of the
richness of art, heritage and traditions that underpin Mäori culture. We are grateful to Air New Zealand and Tourism New
Zealand for their support of the exhibition and accompanying events programme,” said Dr Seddon Bennington, Chief
Executive of Te Papa.
Mauri Ora has been developed specifically for the Tokyo National Museum by Te Papa as part of a cultural exchange
programme. In March 2006, Te Papa showcased Splendours of Japan , featuring over 130 treasures, selected by the Tokyo
National Museum for Te Papa.
Mauri Ora: Treasures from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
22 January – 18 March 2007
Tokyo National Museum