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Tears as family cloak returns

The Te Tau family gather to see their ancestor’s cloak. From left: Peter, Yvonne, Carlene, Tina, Tirau, Merle and Ken.

By Chelsea Boyle
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Tears were shed as a kiwi-feather cloak, that is more than 100 years old, was returned to the Te Tau family yesterday during a ceremony at Aratoi.
Tina Te Tau-Brightwell led a stirring powhiri as the cloak was brought in and unveiled, an opportunity for the family to see for the first time the cloak that had belonged to her great grandfather.
Puhara Te Tau had given the cloak to a member of the Beetham family as a payment in 1893, and members of both families gathered to celebrate the return of the rare item.
Puhara Te Tau’s great grandson Peter Te Tau spoke at the ceremony, thanking the Beetham and Turner families for looking after the cloak.
Peter Te Tau had reached out to Te Papa about 10 years ago to track down the cloak.
“It is really good that Te Papa have done this, total credit to them,” he said.
“If it is meant to come back it will come back.”
It might act as a beacon to some other taonga over the hill at Te Papa, he joked.
Edward Beetham said the relationship his family had with the Te Tau family had always been important, and that he was extremely proud of the Maori name — Pitma — his family had been given.
His family had become for a time the kaitiaki of the cloak, he said.
“[We] totally respected those gifts.
“Many were given in friendship.”
Both Mr Beetham and Peter Te Tau felt it was important to ensure the cloak was around for future generations.
It will be on display at Aratoi.

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