Museum of Waitangi opens

After months and months of construction and preparation, the Museum of Waitangi will be open to the public for the first time this Waitangi weekend. 

About the Museum of Waitangi  

The architecturally designed two-storey museum features stunning stonework by award-winning Māori craftsman, artist and designer Carin Wilson’s, depicting a native forest landscape. This has also been installed and can be viewed on the outer walls of the museum, Carin’s way of putting the trees that were present before construction of the new museum back into the site. If you look closely you can see some figures behind some of the trees. These images represent the ancestors that once walked these lands. 

Carin also designed seven bronze pillars at the entranceway to the museum. He explains, “When putting the treaty together, the British made some important guarantees to tangata whenua. The Māori version of the treaty describes these as seven values.”  The pillars symbolise the seven values – atanoho, kainga, taonga, rangatiratanga, whakapono, rongo, and whenua. 

Carin’s design in the courtyard is a gesture of welcome. The concrete blocks that form the pathway resemble whariki – woven mats that are carefully laid to welcome visitors to the wharenui.


Inaugural exhibition: Ko Waitangi Tenei – This is Waitangi:

The inaugural exhibition (and long-term display) Ko Waitangi tenei: ‘This is Waitangi’, explores the story of Waitangi – The place and the Treaty. It looks at the relationship between Māori and the British Crown through personal exchanges between rangatira and the Crown, and how these grew into the formality of Treaty-making, as well as and what has happened since.

Key Ko Waitangi Tenei pieces include:

  • Hongi Hika’s self portrait, carved bust made in 1814
  • Silver gilt Christening set, gift of Queen Victoria to her godson Albert Victor Pomare, 1863
  • Charles Fredrick Goldie’s portrait of Tamati Waka Nene, 1934
  • Full size copy of Franz Xaver Winterhalter’s portrait of Queen Victoria 1843
  • Hongi and Waikato Portrait on loan from Fletcher Art Collection
  • First bilingual publication of the Treaty, 1844 on loan from Dr Spencer Scoular

Opening temporary exhibition: Disenchanted Prophets

This first temporary exhibition and opens with a collection of rarely seen photographs documenting protest action at Waitangi over the decades. This exhibition provides an alternative visual archive to mainstream media coverage at the historic location. Comprising works by some of Aotearoa’s leading photographers including Mark Adams, Bruce Connew, Gil Hanley and Ans Westra, the striking images explore issues of leadership and the role of slogans in articulating a desire for change and provide a fresh national context to Waitangi demonstrations. Those behind the lens also share their approach to depicting the scene and the role of photography in portraying social change.

Wellington-based firm Workshop e designed, built and installed the exhibitions for the museum, having previously worked on projects with the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Te Papa, Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and the WOW World of Wearable Arts international tour. The Museum of Waitangi includes a mix of traditional museum displays and interactive technology including large-scale audiovisual displays.

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