PJ Devonshire, Haami Te Whaiti, Ian Perry, and Susanna Shadbolt. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE 

CHELSEA BOYLE

chelsea.boyle@age.co.nz

The largest showing of Ngati Kahungunu taonga came to a close yesterday as Araoti Museum farewelled its popular Te Marae O Rongotaketake – Redressing our Kahungunu History – exhibition.

About 15,000 people from at least 19 countries have visited the exhibition since it opened in April.

There were about 200 historical items in the exhibition, some of which were on loan from international museums.

The exhibition was curated by Haami Te Whaiti and addresses the Treaty settlement between Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Ngati Kahungunu ki Tamaki-nui-a-Rua and the Crown.

It was an emotional day for the organisers, who encouraged visitors to walk around the exhibition one last time before the group reconvened at the sound of a conch.

Mr Te Whaiti thanked everyone for their support and said it was time to move forwards.

Curator Haami Te Whaiti blows a conch to call everyone together. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

Curator Haami Te Whaiti blows a conch to call everyone together. PHOTO/CHELSEA BOYLE

He said he was sad to see the taonga go – “some of them we have just made connections with.”

But it reminded him of an old Maori proverb which translated to mean when the older net is cast aside the new one goes fishing.

Aratoi Regional Trust Board chair Barbara Roydhouse said the exhibition had become a part of the very fabric of the museum and would be missed.

If these stories were not passed on, the next generation would be bereft of its heritage, she said.

The education programme had been very successful and it had been “fabulous” to hear all the “busy little people” in the museum.

A free education programme which involved about 3500 students had been running during the exhibition.

Ngati Kahungunu Ki Wairarapa Ki Tamaki Nui a Rua Settlement Trust chairman Ian Perry said the exhibition had been a “tremendous effort”.

“The important thing now is moving forwards.”