Greenstone mere makes historic journey home to the northDate: 25 January 2012
A greenstone mere once owned by Hongi Hika will be welcomed home at the 2012 Ngāpuhi Festival more than 180 years after it was first gifted to the Marsden family.
Now held at Auckland Museum, the mere is one of four taonga (treasures) that will be displayed from the museum’s collection. The museum previously shared taonga with the festival when it was held in Auckland but this is the first time collections items have been taken to the festival in Kaikohe.
The mere was gifted to Reverend Samuel Marsden’s daughter Mary during his sixth voyage to New Zealand in 1830, and is reputed to have originally belonged to Hongi Hika, a chief and warrior of the Ngāpuhi people. The mere was acquired thanks to fundraising support from the Museum Circle. The Museum Circle Foundation is an independent charitable trust that supports the Museum’s programmes, acquisitions and development.
The mere is of particular importance as it links two key Maori and Pakeha figures in New Zealand’s early contact history.
“We’re honoured to return these objects to Ngāpuhi for the festival. As a museum we are committed to sharing the collective stories of our past and helping to bring these stories to life in the community. The museum is home to numerous sacred taonga and it’s really important to us to help connect these with people,” says Chanel Clarke, Auckland Museum Curator Maori.
Ngapuhi General Manager Allen Wihongi says the homecoming of the taonga is particularly timely given the presence of the art exhibition Toi Ngapuhi at the festival.
“These taonga are precious not because they’re historic objects but because of who they belonged to and the stories that surround them. Having these taonga with us is another way to keep those stories alive and not lose sight of them.”
“We’re all very excited about their arrival; it’s like a homecoming with these objects from Hongi Hika coming back to where he lived and to where the stories of these taonga began.”
Other taonga to be displayed at the festival include a wooden bust carved by Hongi Hika, a treasure box owned by Hongi Hika and a sterling silver cup.
The biannual Ngāpuhi festival celebrates the culture and pride of one of New Zealand’s largest iwi, and is presented by Te Runanga-A-Iwi-O-Ngapuhi. The event is expected to attract around 40,000 visitors over 28 and 29 January at Northland College.
The event will involve a weekend full of entertainment, art, competitions, seminars, shopping and plenty of kai. Organisers are expecting around 100 stalls.
Key activities and performances at the Ngapuhi Festival include: