Exhibitions - Whakakitenga
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takapou whāriki

Enter Te Takapou Whāriki o Taranaki (The Sacred Woven Mat of Taranaki) gallery and experience the rich, deep tones of a karakia welcoming you to this place of tales and taonga.

View exquisite Māori carvings, including a waka prow associated with Te Ātiawa paramount chief Wiremu Kingi Te Rangitaake, and see treasures touched by the hands of famous Māori leaders like Te Whiti o Rongomai and Titokowaru, including some of the gifts they have presented to others in thanks such as the piupiu (flax skirt) given to nurse Ann Evans, in gratitude for the six weeks' medical care she gave to the great chief Titokowaru while he lay dying from pneumonia.

The adze (Poutama whiria) that helped carve the Tokomaru canoe along with the anchor stone from the same canoe is here. There are also the carvings from the meeting house Rua-toki Te Hau held for safe-keeping for the people of Puniho Marae.

They all sit alongside perhaps the most remarkable taonga of the gallery – an intricate stone carving.

But these are not the only treasures the gallery holds, for there are also stories here – stories of times past, of conflict, of belief, of sorrow and of hope for the future.

Revealed by Taranaki tangata whenua themselves, and sourced from previously unpublished Māori writings, these accounts are told with light and sound, creating an atmosphere that is evocative with the weight of history and the Māori way of life.

whakairo rākau

The latest addition to the Takapou Whāriki gallery is a display of the largest and most significant collection of known whakairo rākau (wood carvings) from the Taranaki region.
After the arrival of the East Polynesian ancestors of Māori arrived in Aotearoa a number of distinct regional carving traditions evolved. The Taranaki style features eel-like bodies, peaked foreheads and limbs piercing body parts.
Most of the carvings surviving today were recovered from the wetlands of North Taranaki. Although examples of South Taranaki carving were recorded as far back as 1834, far fewer have survived to the present day.