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Rare patu returns home from LA

A patu has returned to Wairarapa from Los Angeles, after a journey across the world that lasted more than a century.

Carved by Te Atiawa master carver Jacob Heberley the patu, called a wahaika, once belonged to Tamahau Mahupuku of Greytown.

The item is unique in the respect that it is made from celluloid, which is a synthetic plastic.

It was gifted to Lord Ranfurly, who was the Governor of New Zealand, in 1904 by Tamahau’s widow.

While owned by Lord Ranfurly it travelled to England.

It has now been loaned to Aratoi from the Fowler Museum University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) for an upcoming exhibition.

It will play a central role in an exhibition that will open in March next year.

Curator Haami Te Whaiti said it was fitting that the taonga had been received at Papawai Marae, the site where it was most likely gifted to Ranfurly during his final farewell, before going to Aratoi.

“It is a considerable honour to be receiving this taonga today,” he said.

“We are very excited about welcoming this taonga back to the Wairarapa and are looking forward to the exhibition where it will be a centrepiece.”

Mr Te Whaiti is also a negotiator for the Treaty settlement and believes we have reached a seminal moment in the history of iwi.

“The exhibition aims to publicly present the Treaty settlement to both the iwi community and also the wider public telling the stories of loss and disenfranchisement.

“The visitor will be enabled to discover and relearn some of the key events that happened during this historical period as well as the iwi’s hopes and aspirations post settlement.”

Fellow curator Marcus Boroughs said the exhibition will be the largest ever held at Aratoi.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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