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Dramatic Dawn ceremony to open Te Papa's major Maori treasures exhibition in Tokyo – 22 January

News from Te Papa - 19/01/07

Mauri Ora: Treasures from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa will be opened with a traditional Mäori Dawn Ceremony on 22 January 2007 in Tokyo, which will include a pre-dawn procession to the Tokyo National Museum. Participating in this significant ceremony will be the Mäori King Tuheitia, in his first overseas engagement, accompanied by the Hon. Mahara Okeroa, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Mäori elders (kaumatua and kuia), tribal members, government representatives and senior Te Papa staff.


Kahukiwi (kiwi feather cloak) Kotiate (flat short club)
Kahukiwi (kiwi feather cloak)
Image source: collections of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Click here to view a larger version
Kotiate (flat short club)
Image source: collections of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Click here to view a larger version

The exhibition, the largest collection of traditional Mäori taonga (treasures) to leave New Zealand shores since Te Mäori in 1984, Mauri Ora has been developed specifically for the Tokyo National Museum by Te Papa as part of a cultural exchange programme. In March 2006, Te Papa showcased Splendours of Japan, featuring over 130 treasures, selected by the Tokyo National Museum for Te Papa.

The dawn ceremony acknowledges the treasures' connection to iwi (tribes) and Aotearoa New Zealand and formally entrusts the care of these treasures to the Tokyo National Museum.


Nguru (flute) Pütörino (bugle flute)
Nguru (flute)
Image source: collections of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Click here to view a larger version
Pütörino (bugle flute)
Image source: collections of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Click here to view a larger version

The ceremony begins with the trumpet of pütätara (conch shell) and pukaea (trumpet) at 6.15am at the main gates of the Tokyo National Museum. Four Mäori warriors in traditional dress with taiaha (traditional fighting staffs) will advance and clear the way for the Mäori King and the main party to advance. As the party proceeds to the karanga (calls) of the kuia, prayers will be spoken to connect with the treasures and ancestors. Upon reaching the Heisenkan Building containing the exhibition, the party will be joined by Tokyo National Museum leaders and officials then proceed through the exhibition space. The ceremony will conclude with speeches, hongi (pressing of noses) and a light breakfast, accompanied by traditional Mäori dancing and singing. It is envisaged that the ceremony will conclude by approximately 8.30am.


Toki poutangata (ceremonial adze) Rei puta (neck pendant)
Toki poutangata (ceremonial adze)
Image source: collections of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Click here to view a larger version
Rei puta (neck pendant)
Image source: collections of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Click here to view a larger version

Tokyo National Museum will host an official opening at 2.30pm, with the Hon. Mahara Okeroa, Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage speaking on behalf of the New Zealand Government and a ribbon cutting ceremony.


Pütörino (bugle flute) Whakapakoko (carved figure)
Pütörino (bugle flute)
Image source: collections of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Click here to view a larger version
Whakapakoko (carved figure)
Image source: collections of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Click here to view a larger version

There is considerable interest in the ceremony amongst Japanese media.

Mauri Ora will be exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum in Japan from 22 January to 18 March 2007.

Editor's comment
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