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  • Writer's pictureBrent Kerehona Pukepuke-Ahitapu

The British Museum, Kaitiaki to Hongi's Kakahu

The author is fortunate to have again, been provided access to a kakahu (woven cloak) which influential Ngapuhi chief Hongi Hika gifted KIng George IV when they met at Carlton House, London, on 13th November 1820.

The author has visited The British Museum on three occasions now, the first time in January 2019, where he did a viewing and basic examination; then again in October that same year, where he and kairaranga (weaver) Rae Midwood undertook a detailed examination of the kakahu; and this visit, where he did a confirmatory examination and placed the garment on, so that an estimation of Hongi's height could be ascertained.

The author was also able to spend some downtime at the museum during this visit, and viewed most of the permanent exhibitions including the Elgin Marbles, and the Rosetta Stone, He also spent some time viewing the Pacific collections and viewed the Gweagle Shield (Australia), several pounamu (greenstone) and paraoa (whalebone) mere, and stone patu (handheld stone clubs)., and was amazed at the size of these - the warriors would have had to be strong to wield weapons of this size and weight. Also of interest, was the collection of hei tiki (embryo-form pendants), one of which is a contemporary plexiglass (perspex) example carved by renowned Maori artist George Nuku.

The author would like to acknowledge and thank Dr Julie Adams, and Jill Hassell for their continued tautoko (assistance/support) and manaakitanga (hospitality) during his visit.

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