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Face to face

Acclaimed writer of Ng&#257;ti Toa descent Patricia Grace gives her response to the Te Papa exhibition <EM>Ng&#257;ti Toa Rangatira: He iti whet&#363;</EM>, which features portraits of her t&#363;puna (ancestors)

<P data-associrn="1506266"></P> <P>On 6 June 2013, I received notice from the Minister for Land Information saying that a portion of ancestral land I owned in Waikanae was to be taken under the Public Works Act (PWA). I had been unwilling to negotiate the sale of this land, which was now ‘required for road and State Highway’.</P> <P>However, it came to my notice that if I were to change the status of the land to a M&#257;ori reservation, it would not be able to be taken from me, even by the Crown. With strong support from my family I made an application to the M&#257;ori Land Court to make this change, an action which was opposed by the New Zealand Transport Agency. The result was a hearing in a court set up in the wharenui (meeting house) at Whakarongotai marae in Waikanae. Soon after that, a separate Environment Court hearing took place in Wellington, also opposed by NZTA. </P> <P data-associrn="1506256"></P> <P>The evidence I gave in both courts was based on history and whakapapa (genealogy). It emphasised that the land in question had come from my father’s great-grandfather Wiremu Parata Te K&#257;k&#257;kura, whose portrait is on display in the exhibition at Te Papa. The question I asked in court was why the Crown, now working with iwi to compensate for past mistakes, should be giving with one hand and taking with the other via the PWA. Judgements found in our favour in both courts. The land could not be alienated from us. It would remain in my ownership but become a reservation for the benefit of the descendants of Wiremu Parata Te K&#257;k&#257;kura.</P> <P>In so strongly objecting to my land being taken I was remembering back to when I was about 20, when my father asked me if I thought he should sell his shares in the Waikanae property, remarking that M&#257;ori land was ‘nothing but trouble’. Rates demands and notifications regarding fencing were coming to my father and two of his sisters. Most of the other owners were living in Otago and were out of touch. I don’t know why he sought my advice, as I was ignorant of the land’s history. Nor do I know why my answer was: ‘No, don’t sell it.’</P> <P>In later years, my father’s and his sister’s shares were partitioned from the main block. I eventually became a shareholder, and as such, saw it as a kind of rescue mission to purchase when others &#8211; for various very good reasons &#8211; found it problematic to keep their shares.</P> <P data-associrn="1466858"></P> <P>This land known as Tuku R&#257kau and the exhibition <EM>He Iti Whet&#363;</EM> (‘small stars brightly shining’) are all part of the legacy of Wiremu Parata Te K&#257;k&#257;kura and those who went before him. As I see it, the preservation of a piece of land is parallel to the preservation of taonga, both of which speak to us so eloquently across time. The full power of the link came home to me when I came face to face with my ancestors in the exhibition.</P> <P><STRONG>He iti whet&#363;</STRONG></P> <P>Central to the exhibition <EM>He iti whet&#363;</EM>, for me, are two large Lindauer paintings of Te K&#257;k&#257;kura and his wife Unaiki Whareangiangi, commissioned in 1877. These two figures lead me in a direct line back and forth through my own genealogy.</P> <P>The paintings are not unknown to my wh&#257;nau. We have seen them when they have been brought into the wharenui at Whakarongotai to honour relatives (descendants of the pair) when they die. The portraits, and several other taonga, have been cared for over the years by family caretakers in their own homes. In a glass case in front of the two portraits are some of the other taonga handed down through Te K&#257;k&#257;kura. They are whalebone and greenstone weaponry and ornaments. We have seen these before too, along with cloaks and other fine items. </P> <P data-associrn="1470568"></P> <P>Te K&#257;k&#257;kura was a well-known figure in his day, and recognition of him has continued through time because of his political career, his leadership, and because of a landmark court case known as Wi Parata vs. the Bishop of Wellington. He lived up to his chiefly status obtained by birthright from those before him. His mother was Met&#257;pere Te Waipunaahau. In the Waikanae area it was Met&#257;pere who was deferred to in the matter of lands. It was recognised, even by her enemies, that her highborn status embodied the mana of her tribe. Her marriage to whaler George Stubbs was approved by her elders, and considered a strategic alliance ensuring ongoing access to new technologies and trade opportunities. Both of Met&#257;pere Te Waipunaahau’s names have continued to be used in our family, as has the name George. </P> <P data-associrn="1502635"></P> <P>Surrounding the Lindauer portraits in the exhibition are drawings and etchings bringing into focus Met&#257;pere Te Waipunaahau’s father, Te Rangih&#299;roa, along with his older brother, paramount chief Te P&#275;hi Kupe, and Te P&#275;hi’s son Te Hiko. Te P&#275;hi Kupe’s drawing of his own facial moko is on display. An accompanying portrait of him is a painting by Sam Stewart &#8211; an artist’s impression done in 1906. Displayed in a case is the original Land Deed for Wai&#333rua, featuring quill and ink drawings of Te Rangih&#299;roa's and Te Hiko’s moko, which act as signatures to the deed.</P> <P>When Met&#257;pere Te Waipunaahau’s son Te K&#257;k&#257;kura was born, he was given his name from words spoken by Te P&#275;hi Kupe just before his execution in about 1828: ‘Kaua e hoatu ki te Atua, engari me homai ki Te K&#257;k&#257;kura. Do not consign me to God (or the gods), but rather to my ancestors at Te K&#257;k&#257;kura!’</P> <P>Along with his mother, it was Te K&#257;k&#257;kura’s grandfather Te Rangih&#299;roa, Te Hiko and Ropata Hurumutu (mentioned again later) who played a vital part in his upbringing &#8211; tutoring him in a manner befitting an ariki (high-born person). Te K&#257;k&#257;kura’s father, George Stubbs, died in 1838 as the result of a whaling accident not long after his second son was born.</P> <P><STRONG>The land</STRONG></P> <P>There are many reasons my family and I were determined to keep the Waikanae land in 2014. One of the most important was that we knew about the burials that had taken place in the high ground and didn’t want that land disturbed. It was this section of land NZTA wanted. Also, the required land took in part of the old ara tapu, the passageway by which t&#363p&#257;paku were taken, by bullock and cart, to the burial site at Takamore. Further research led me to a deeper understanding of the historic importance of the land which had been Tuku Rakau Village. People had lived and died there, held ceremonies, used resources. Their houses, birthing shelters and wharenui (now situated in the Waikanae township) were there. Not only were the ancestral bones interred in parts of the land, but their blood had been spilt in its defence or its acquisition. The land is written all over.</P> <P>One morning some Ng&#257;ti Toa were gathering fern root in Waikanae when they were assailed by a force made up of Muaupoko, Rangitane and Ng&#257;ti Apa. More than 60 people were killed during this incident, including Te P&#275;hi Kupe’s four daughters. Four chiefs were also killed. Pohe, wife of Te Rangih&#299;roa and mother of Met&#257;pere Te Waipunaahau, was taken and decapitated.</P> <P data-associrn="1465897"></P> <P>My grandmother was named Pohe, after this tupuna (ancestor). Whenever I hear of this event I think of my grandmother and her quiet, rather solemn demeanor and wonder if she bore any likeness to her great-great-grandmother, so brutally dispatched. Ng&#257;ti Toa had, of necessity, left their lands in K&#257;whia and expanded their territories into Waikanae by conquest. Reprisals were bound to be extreme and horrifying. Following this incident, Te P&#275;hi, broken-hearted at the loss of his daughters, departed for England on the Urania with the intention of obtaining guns.</P> <P data-associrn="1501429"></P> <P>Te K&#257;k&#257;kura had one sibling, his younger brother H&#275;mi M&#257;tenga. There is a small photograph and information about him alongside information about his wife, Huria M&#257;tenga. From all accounts he was an entrepreneur whose family enjoyed wealth and luxury during his lifetime. His name appears on many sites in Waikanae. However, it was his wife whose name became widely known, and who is the subject of a large Lindauer portrait in the Te Papa exhibition. Huria became a heroic figure because of the part she played in the sea rescue of the brig <EM>Delaware</EM> in 1863. In some accounts it is another resident of Whakapuaka, an incredibly strong man, Hohapata Kahupuku, who was the main rescuer. But it was Huria who became the heroine. The brig ran into a storm out of Nelson and was thrown on to rocks near the cliffs of Whakapuaka where Huria and her husband H&#275;mi were living. Huria, H&#275;mi, and Hohapata Kahupuku swam out and rescued the crew. This story has been told many times. But there is another story regarding Huria which is not well known.</P> <P>Huria and H&#275;mi M&#257;tenga were childless, which was of great sorrow to them. As a solution to this H&#275;mi was instructed to lie with his wife’s first cousin. A daughter, Mamae, was born. She became Huria and Hemi’s child. This was a customary and pragmatic solution. Whakapapa was all important, paramount, to the people of the time. In this way, Mamae’s genealogy was the same as the genealogy of any child who might have been born to H&#275;mi and Huria.</P> <P>What I was reminded of as I stood before the portrait of Huria was of days spent, as a child, at the homestead at Whakapuaka in the company of cousins &#8211; playing in the estuary with tiny flounder wriggling under our feet, climbing the big walnut tree, having black balloons at Christmas and riding along rough roads on the tray of Uncle Reuben’s truck, ‘ouching’ over the bumps and jolts.</P> <P>One wall of the exhibition is dedicated to black and white photographs. In among them is an image of Ropata Hurumutu, another name which survives in our family. At the time when people including Te P&#275;hi’s children were killed, prompting Te P&#275;hi to travel across the world in search of weaponry, it was Hurumutu who gathered together a fighting force to avenge the deaths.</P> <P>By staying with my own ‘line’ I have not done justice to this small, powerful exhibition, but it is all I am able to do. It is a personal response. The land we fought for in Waikanae is part of who we are, as is this fine exhibition. By fighting to retain the land we are able not to feel embarrassed standing among our ancestors, gathered together under the title <EM>He iti whet&#363;</EM>.</P> <BLOCKQUOTE style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr> <P style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr align=left><EM>Ahakoa he iti whet&#363; ki runga ki te rangi nui p&#333;k&#275;k&#275;ao uhia kia ngaro, e kore e ngaro.</EM></P> <P style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px" dir=ltr align=left><EM>Even though the stars shining in the night’s sky might be obscured by a passing cloud, they will never be obliterated.</EM></P></BLOCKQUOTE> <P><BR>&nbsp;</P>
William James Batt, &lt;EM&gt;Wiremu Parata Te Kakakura Waipunaahau&lt;/EM&gt;, 1871-76, albumen silver print, Purchased 1916. &lt;A href=&quot;;&gt;Full object info is available on;/A&gt;

William James Batt, Wiremu Parata Te Kakakura Waipunaahau, 1871-76, albumen silver print, Purchased 1916. Full object info is available on

Davis and Co, &lt;EM&gt;Unaiki Whareangiangi Pukeh&lt;/EM&gt;i, 1850-85, black and white photograph, carte-de-visite  &lt;A href=&quot;;&gt;Full object info is available on;/A&gt;

Davis and Co, Unaiki Whareangiangi Pukehi, 1850-85, black and white photograph, carte-de-visite Full object info is available on


Captain Samuel Ashmore, 1831 Land deed for the village of Wyarrua (Waiorua, Kapiti Island) between Captain Samuel Ashmore and Ngati Toa chiefs., 5 September 1831,
On loan from Archives New Zealand / Te Whare Tohu Tuhituhinga O Aotearoa.
Full object info is available on


Charles Heaphy, Hiko, the son of Te Pehi Kupe (Tupai Cupa), 1845, hand-coloured lithograph,
On loan from the Fletcher Trust.
Full object info is available on

Wh&amp;#257nau pani (bereaved family) gathered around the coffin of H&amp;#275;mi M&amp;#257;tenga at his tangi in 1912. Patricia Grace’s great-grandmother Met&amp;#257;pere, daughter of Met&amp;#257;pere Te Waipunaahau, is seated on the left at the rear. The coffin is framed by family portraits and treasures. Tyree Studio Collection/Nelson Provincial Museum Collection, 181550

Whānau pani (bereaved family) gathered around the coffin of Hēmi Mātenga at his tangi in 1912. Patricia Grace’s great-grandmother Metāpere, daughter of Metāpere Te Waipunaahau, is seated on the left at the rear. The coffin is framed by family portraits and treasures. Tyree Studio Collection/Nelson Provincial Museum Collection, 181550


Gottfried Lindauer, Huria Matenga, 1909, oil on canvas,
Collection of The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatu.
Full object info is available on

Patricia Grace (far right) with her cousins and aunt at Whakapuaka, about 1946. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of Patricia Grace

Patricia Grace (far right) with her cousins and aunt at Whakapuaka, about 1946. Photographer unknown. Courtesy of Patricia Grace