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  • Writer's pictureBrent Kerehona Pukepuke-Ahitapu

A Kaitaka fit for a King - or a Queen

Updated: 5 days ago

The author is fortunate to have been granted the opportunity to visit Osborne House, which was one of the Royal residences favoured by Queen Victoria; where he was permitted access to a kaitaka (finely woven flax cloak) which was gifted to the Queen by Māori chief Hirini Pakia, who was part of a delegation of Māori who had been given an audience with Her Highness Queen Victoria here at Osborne House in July 1863. Queen Victoria was also given a korowai, which is currently on loan to Te Kōngahu Museum in Waitangi, Aotearoa New Zealand.

The author examined this kaitaka in the Duchess of Kent's (Queen Victoria's mother) room, as the lighting in the Swiss Cottage Museum on the grounds of Osborne House was deemed unsuitable for purpose; and a historical and technical report will be provided to the Royal Trust, and the Swiss Cottage Museum who are the kaitiaki (guardian) for this taonga (artefact/cultural treasure).

The author also visited the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, where he viewed original correspondence regarding the visit to England, and the audience with the Queen, by this delegation of Maori chiefs.

Interestingly, on the grounds, there is a small pa harakeke (an area with large and mature New Zealand flax plants) the same fibre from which the kaitaka was made; and it would be interesting to know when they were planted - possibly as far back as 1863 when the Maori delegation visited.

The author would like to acknowledge and thank His Majesty King Charles III, the Royal Collection Trust, Caroline de Guitaut - Surveyor of the King's Works of Arts; Osborne House, Christopher Warleigh-Lack -Curator; Emma Hallums - Collection Care Assistant; Kirsty Huggett - Collection Conservation Assistant; and Osborne House Volunteer Vickie Eggs, for their tautoko (assistance/support) and manaakitanga (hospitality) during his time at Osborne House.

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