Auckland Museum and Te Papa return Te Pahi Medal to NZ
The Te Pahi silver medal will return to New Zealand after a successful joint bid overnight by Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.
A shared guardianship relationship will be arranged between the two Museums and descendants of the Māori chief Te Pahi, who was gifted the medal by Governor King of New South Wales in 1806.
The medal recently came to public attention when it was offered for auction having been in a private collection in Australia for many years.
Staff at both Museums are currently working on having the medal exported from Australia, and look forward to working with the iwi.
Auckland Museum Director, Roy Clare says: “This uniquely important acquisition by two of the country’s leading institutions affirms the strength of the rapidly evolving day to day relationship with Iwi, hapu and whānau across Aotearoa New Zealand. In line with our Future Museum vision, Auckland Museum has adopted He Korahi Māori, in which the Te Awe project, launched last year, is a vivid and living example of co-development of knowledge about taonga; the museum is among the kaitiaki that care for and re-connect taonga with people and their communities. As such, we’re thrilled to have worked together with Te Papa, with encouragement from Te Pahi descendants in Ngāpuhi, to secure the return to Aotearoa of an exceptionally significant piece of history relating to early relationships between Māori and Europeans.”
Arapata Hakiwai, Te Papa’s Kaihautū (Māori Leader), was delighted with the result of the joint bid, and says: “The partnership between Te Papa and Auckland Museum, working in collaboration with Te Runanga a Iwi Ngāpuhi, demonstrates the importance for this nationally significant taonga to return home. It is important to uphold the principle of Mana Taonga, which recognises the relationship between treasures and their descendant source communities. In the case of the Te Pahi medal, this acknowledges the value of this tribal treasure to present and future generations.”
Ngāpuhi kaumatua, Hugh Rihari, says “We the descendants of Te Pahi, the Ngāpuhi nation and the people of Aotearoa New Zealand appreciate the efforts of Te Papa and the Auckland Museum for bringing this valuable taonga back to Aotearoa. It brings closure to the pain and suffering that our people have endured for these past 204 years, following the medal’s loss in the attack on Te Pahi’s islands, Motu Apo and Roimata.”
Auckland Mayor Len Brown says "I’m thrilled to see such an important piece of history being returned to New Zealand, and commend the way Auckland Museum and Te Papa have worked together, along with descendants of Te Pahi, to ensure this taonga will be accessible for future generations to come."