Te Ahi Kā Roa, Te Ahi Kātoro Taranaki War 1860–2010
Our Legacy — Our Challenge
17 March 2010 – 1 August 2010
Taranaki War tells the story that began in March 1860 when the first shots were fired in a series of wars that raged through the region on and off for 21 years. At stake was ownership of the land which would determine the destinies of both Māori and Pākehā.
Today — 150 years later — the war that shaped Taranaki appears every bit as shocking as any 21st century news bulletin. This enthralling exhibition describes in detail the invasion, bombing, civilian casualties, siege and attempted ethnic cleansing that took place and extends the discussion from historic events to contemporary issues that are the legacy of war.
While the stories told in the exhibition are embedded in Taranaki’s history, they are not exclusive to the region. Their close examination helps us to better understand who all New Zealanders are, where they have been in their history and where they might be heading.
Taranaki War was the final part of Puke Ariki’s five-exhibition Common Ground series designed to build background history and explore the Taranaki wars themselves. Takapou Whāriki explored family history and identity; Taranaki Whenua looked at issues surrounding land; Taranaki Culture celebrated the region’s creativity and Taranaki Fortunes dealt with matters of regional economy. The exhibition revisited all these topics of family, land, culture and economy in the light of the devastating effects of Taranaki war.
The exhibition, however, was not locked into past events. There are plenty of historic and contemporary images and objects, mainly from Puke Ariki’s heritage collection, and several key items from other New Zealand institutions, alongside cutting-edge technology that deposits history firmly in the present. The tales of dodgy deals and dirty tactics, heroes and villains, friends and foes, despair, protest and hope may be old ones, but the themes all ring true today. The horror of 19th century war and its long-term effects are thought-provokingly real.
Visitors to the exhibition were prepared not only to learn but to have their own on-the-spot say on relevant issues by making use of the opportunities provided.
This is War
The first section of the exhibition introduced some of the people and events important in the build-up to war and traces the struggles of both Māori and Pākehā as each asserted their claims to Taranaki land. Paintings, photographs, collection objects and first-hand impressions bring to dramatic life the First Taranaki War, the Second Taranaki War, the South Taranaki Wars and the events of Parihaka.
The War’s long legacy
At the heart of the exhibition is a no-punches-pulled examination of the ongoing legacy of war in the region. Here, memorials to Taranaki war in stone and in street signs, in official war photographs, artefacts and commemoration events are exhibited as potent, contemporary reminders of history. Past and present legislation is discussed along with issues surrounding comparative wealth, physical and mental health, language and learning.
Where to from here?
Taranaki War was not just an exhibition to be seen and appreciated. It is also an exhibition to be thought about, discussed and thought about some more. In the last section, visitors were invited to have a say in the ongoing conversation about the events and issues that surround war in Taranaki.
Read the comments made by the visitors to Taranaki War about the issues raised in the exhibition.
Post your Own comments about the future of your country.
See the Comment Wall Gallery and read the comments people are making.