Iwi from around the country will gather in Tūranganui-ā-Kiwa | Gisborne this week to share kaupapa of kaitiakitanga (guardianship) at the Tūhonohono conference.

The journey of Te Hau ki Tūranga, the world’s oldest whare whakairo (carved house), will be the focus of kōrero. The wharenui is on display at Te Papa and is the centrepiece of the iwi exhibition Ko Rongowhakaata Ruku i te Pō, Ruku i te Ao : The Story of Light and Shadow. Rongowhakaata is currently iwi in residence at Te Papa.

Built in the early 1840s by Rongowhakaata under the jurisdiction of master carver Raharuhi Rukupo, and wrongfully confiscated by the Crown in 1867, Te Hau ki Tūranga was then held by the Colonial Museum, displayed at the Dominion Museum and moved to Te Papa where it has been displayed since 1998. In 2012, as part of Rongowhakaata’s Treaty of Waitangi settlement, the New Zealand government apologised to the iwi for the forcible removal of Te Hau ki Tūranga, stating that the whare whakairo belongs to them.

Iwi experts speaking at Tūhonohono will exchange insights and experience to build on the body of knowledge that Rongowhakaata is developing on the repatriation, restoration and protection of taonga.

The two day conference to be held at Te Poho o Rawiri, is being co-hosted by Rongowhakaata and Te Papa’s National Services Te Paerangi.

Image: Te Hau ki Turanga, Ko Rongowhakaata Installation, 2017. Photograph by Michael O’Neill. Te Papa