Dawn blessing for Whare Taonga

The Whare Taonga, Waipuhi, at Takahanga Marae in Kaikōura was officially opened with a dawn blessing on Sunday 9 October. Over 100 Kaikōura whanau and specially invited guests attended the event.

The sun rises over Whare Taonga as a crowd gathers.
The three buildings left to right: Moruka, Waipuhi and Rakitekua.expand/collapse

Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura has opened three buildings at Takahanga Marae which hold important artefacts and collection samples connected to mana whenua in the Kaikōura rohe. The buildings are situated in the main grounds of the marae complex.

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Senior Archaeologist, Frank van der Heijden attended the ceremony.

“It was a special experience and amazing to be present for it after my involvement administering the Archaeology Authority for the NCTIR project”.

The Whare Taonga, Waipuhi, holds Taonga tūturu (objects that relate to Māori culture, history and society, some of which date back 800 years). The two other buildings, Moruka and Rakitekua, contain samples of bird bones, fish bones, soil and pollen which archaeologists preserved from Māori settlements along the Kaikōura coast. The buildings also contain a research space for invited visiting archaeologists to work with the te ao Māori collection onsite.

The Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu fund, Waka Kotahi, and KiwiRail all gave funds to renovate the three buildings. Since the opening, Te Papa Tongarewa has also come on board and are financially supporting the Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura curator who is caring for the collection.

Most of the collection items have come out of the NCTIR (North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery alliance) project. A team of cultural monitors and archaeologists worked to preserve and research this archaeology. Even digger and truck drivers were educated to watch out for and save Māori artefacts.

The collection is already proving valuable for academic researchers, who are able to study the artefacts and samples with the permission of Te Rūnanga o Kaikōura. One recent award-winning article describes how DNA sequencing of kuri (dog) poo recovered during the NCTIR project reveals new information about human and canine gut health in the past.

Rosemary Baird