Supported by the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Māori Built Heritage Programme, this 100-year-old room at Parliament is undergoing specialist conservation, that will include repairs with the same traditional materials originally used to create the taonga in this room.
The August 1922 opening of what was then called the Native Affairs Committee Room was the result of years of dedication on the part of important Māori Members of Parliament, including Tā Āpirana Ngata, Sir Māui Pōmare, Te Rangihiroa Sir Peter Buck, and Taurekareka Henare. The room showcases the skill of two historic master carvers from Te Arawa – Te Kiwi Henare Mete Amohau of Ngāti Whakaue and Te Ngaru Ranapia of Ngāti Pikiao.
Dean Whiting, Deputy Chief Executive Māori Heritage - Kaihautū, emphasises that changes in land use in Aotearoa New Zealand have impacted on the availability of natural materials. “Traditionally, people would reach into their local forests and wetlands to find what they needed to build and maintain their marae,” he says. “The conversion of lands into pasture across Aotearoa has resulted in the loss of plants and materials, and people have either resorted to other less-suitable materials or had to look further afield to find what they need.”
At the project’s first wānanga, Zealandia, along with Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o Te Ika, Te Āti Awa, and Ngāti Toa Rangatira have gifted the kiekie (Freycinetia banksii) from Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne that will be used in the restoration of tukutuku panels in Matangireia.
Intended to be the first of many discussions with Zealandia on taonga species and traditional marae arts, the wānanga, led by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Pouarahi Traditional Arts, Jim Schuster, gave those gathered the opportunity to learn first-hand about traditional materials and harvesting techniques.
“We are absolutely honoured to be involved in this partnership to gift this kiekie to the nation,” says Zealandia Chief Executive Dr Danielle Shanahan. “Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne has taken shape from the passion and aroha that countless New Zealanders have for our environment. This kiekie is a gift that not only represents our past efforts to protect this beautiful plant, but it also shows us just how wonderful our future will be with Te Tiriti o Waitangi to guide us.”
A further two wānanga will be held over the coming months on-site in Matangireia to conserve the carvings, tukutuku panels, paintings, and resetting photographs.
Following the completion of the conservation work, Matangireia will reopen on its centenary on 23 August 2022.
Ellen Andersen: Director Kaiwhakahaere Tautiaki Taonga and Kaupapa Māori Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
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