The centrepiece of the South Atrium space is Talitali ‘Au Moana, the tanoa. This is an impression of a Fijian kava bowl by architect Noel Lane, and its name was a gift from the Museum's Pacific Advisory Group. A tanoa is the point around which people gather to converse during a talanoa, and our own heroic tanoa encourages that same kind of engagement. Stand beneath it and observe Under the Tanoa, an experience created in collaboration with the three mana whenua iwi represented in the Museum's Taumata-ā-Iwi that tells their stories of arrival and place.

The tanoa has been the epicentre of the South Atrium since its installation in 2006, and now, as part of the Te Ao Mārama renovations, the bowl is fully exposed so we can truly appreciate its beauty and presence. Fittingly, inside the tanoa are classrooms – you may remember it once had windows, which have now been removed. 


Follow the call

As you enter Te Ao Mārama you'll see Under the Tanoa, a light and sound interactive featuring three Mana Whenua narratives: Te Hoeroa by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Te Uunga o Tainui by Waikato-Tainui and Te Tapuwae o Ngāti Paoa by Ngāti Paoa. The stories have been co-created by our iwi working groups and a production company, Creature Post, and they speak to the arrival, waka, kaitiaki and the ancestral landscapes of each iwi. Watch and you'll see common themes of moana, tūpuna, voyaging and navigation emerge.

Each experience is distinct but they are connected to each other through shared whakapapa, landmarks and kaitiaki. The segments act as digital welcome, with the audio incorporating waiata, karakia and karanga that are heard during a pōwhiri. This is an acknowledgment that Te Ao Mārama, the South Atrium, is a welcoming space and ensures that you, our manuhiri (visitors), are welcomed warmly.

The production of the experience was collaborative from start to finish. The narrative, design, and sounds of the experiences have been led and created by Iwi with the Manaaki of Auckland Museum - the voices you hear are the voices of iwi. The songs they sing and the stories they tell are their words, their collective voice.