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  • Writer's pictureBrent Kerehona Pukepuke-Ahitapu

Brent brings history to life in Bristol

Updated: 5 days ago

The author feels grateful that he was able to access priceless taonga (artefact/cultural treasure) within the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery collections, when he was invited by LIsa Graves, to view and examine three specific items during his visit to this institution.

The first was a kakahu (cloak) which Chief Kamariera Te Hau Takiri Wharepapa gifted to the mayor of Bristol during his visit of England; where he and his fellow chiefs also had an audience with Queen Victoria at Osborne House, on the Isle of Wight in 1863. The second was a paraoa heru (whalebone hair comb adornment) which was owned by famous chief Hongi Hika, and was gifted to French Bishop Pompallier. PhD student Polly Bense brought this taonga to the author's attention when he presented a lecture at the Sainsbury Research Unit at the University of East Anglia a week earlier. The final taonga was a pounamu (greenstone) Hei Matau pendant, of which the staff had no knowledge of prior to the author's visit.

As a result of this visit by the author, three historical and technical reports will be produced in regards to these taonga.

The author would like to acknowledge and thank Lisa Graves, and Polly Bense for their tautoko (assistance) and manaakitanga (hospitality) during his time at this institution.

The author would also like to acknowledge being challenged by one of his whanaunga (relatives), regarding the handling and wearing of taonga according to Maori kawa and tikanga (policies and procedures). The importance of the preservation of priceless artefacts, and how they are to be handled is a complex issue, and the author is appreciative of these questions being raised as part of the rangahau (research) process.

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