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Te Papa and Auckland Museum welcome the return of Te Pahi Medal

Media release
Saturday 6 December 2014

A shared guardianship relationship has been arranged involving descendants of Te Pahi.

© Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

A ceremony to mark the return to New Zealand of the Te Pahi silver medal was held at Auckland War Memorial Museum on Saturday (6 December).

This follows a successful joint bid by the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira in April this year. They worked closely with Ngati Torehina, Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngāpuhi and descendants of the Māori chief Te Pahi to achieve this. A shared guardianship relationship has been arranged involving descendants of Te Pahi, who was gifted the medal by Governor King of New South Wales in 1806.

The medal came to public attention when it was offered for auction, having been in a private collection in Australia for many years. Arapata Hakiwai, Te Papa’s Kaihautū (Māori Leader), says the partnership between the two museums, working in collaboration with Ngati Torehina, Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngāpuhi and Te Pahi descendants, demonstrates the importance for this nationally significant taonga to return home.

He says, “The Te Pahi medal is a significant piece of early Māori-European and trans-Tasman history, and is of immense cultural value. Te Papa is guided by the principle of Mana Taonga, which recognises the relationships that exist between treasures and their source communities. Reconnecting treasures to their own treasures is an important part of the whakapapa relationship, as is the recognition of their mana and authority. For this reason, the Te Pahi medal is a taonga of great importance to both present and future generations.”

The medal will be on public display at Auckland Museum from Wednesday 17th December 2014, as part of a Samuel Marsden display commemorating the 200th anniversary of Marsden’s Christmas Sermon at Hohi, near Rangihoua Pa in the Bay of Islands. This pivotal moment in early New Zealand history is considered to represent the first formal relationship between Māori and Europeans.

The Te Pahi medal is a significant piece of early Māori-European and trans-Tasman history, and is of immense cultural value.

© Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

Auckland Museum Director, Roy Clare, says: “We are very excited to finally have the Te Pahi medal back in Aotearoa, where it belongs. The whole journey to get this taonga home has been a massive joint effort between Te Papa, Te Pahi descendants in Ngāpuhi, and our people here at the Museum. As a kaitiaki for taonga, we strive to care for and re-connect treasures such as these with people and their communities; it’s a tangible example of co-development between museums, Iwi, hapu and whanau.”

Te Pahi descendant, Associate Professor Deidre Brown, says, “The medal is important locally and nationally. For Ngati Rua and Ngati Torehina, it embodies the mana of our ancestor, Te Pahi, and the advanced social and technological future he envisaged for us. For New Zealanders, the medal remembers an important historic moment of mutual respect between the Crown and Māori, recognition of Māori sovereign rights, and an equitable future between two cultures. This is the moment that many of us are still working towards achieving for current and future generations. The medal, therefore, is a talisman that represents the past and future of two peoples.”

The return of this taonga on the threshold of the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi is a fortuitous and timely reminder of the enterprising activities of Māori long before European settlement was formalized. Governor King's recognition of Te Pahi in 1806 followed a prolonged period of trade across the Tasman Sea and was at that time a tribute to Te Pahi's entrepreneurial leadership.

The medal will be on public display at Auckland Museum until at least May 2015.

More information

For more information please contact:

Communications Adviser
Cherie McQuilkin
+64 29 601 0180
Cherie.McQuilkin@tepapa.govt.nz

Senior Communications Advisor
Kerry Bothwell
+64 9 309 0443, Ext 7134
kbothwell@aucklandmuseum.com