Te Puputarakihi – Paper Nautilus
What was the wind that was roaring yonder?
It was the north wind, the wind from the north
It was indeed the north wind I was perceiving driving the paper nautilus ashore.
And then to my amazement there was the carved post standing by (the shores of)
Waitemata, standing, standing thus.
This is the translation of the prophesy made by Orakei seer, Titahi, two generations before the arrival of Captain Hobson. It provides the context as to why Te Puputarakihi was selected to symbolically represent Tamaki Paenga Hira – Auckland War Memorial Museum.
The prophesy makes reference to the arrival of some unseen power originating from the north – a wind driving the paper nautilus ashore. The carved post standing by was interpreted as representative of a new regime under which the lands would be subjected.
In due course, the prophesy was realised when Hobson arrived on the Waitemata shores with Treaty of Waitangi in hand. In return Ngati Whatua o Orakei offered their house, Tamaki, which the Crown accepted and on which it established New Zealand’s first government. Tamaki Paenga Hira, representing Auckland’s war dead, stands upon that original land gift – tuku rangatira: a presentation of land between chiefs in which the treasures of both cultures now rest.
The red ochre colour sitting behind Te Puputarakihi represents the kokowai or red ochre that was distinct to the Waitemata’s hard shores. As veins of the treasured kokowai were exposed it was gathered up and used as pigment for personal adornment, on carvings and for trade. On the Taumata-a-Iwi’s initiative the Waitemata kokowai colour was presented alongside Te Puputarakihi to complement the Museum’s new Maori name: Tamaki Paenga Hira.
Facing the north, Tamaki Paenga Hira continues to welcome new visitors to Auckland; indeed a prophetic beacon to Titahi’s paper nautilus, which on rare occasions still blow in from their Pacific breeding grounds to crash on the kokowai shores of the Waitemata.