Hawaiian taonga loaned by Te Papa return home

Hawaiian taonga loaned by Te Papa are being welcomed home to Honolulu's Bishop Museum. Taonga include the feather 'ahu' ula (cloak) and mahiole (helmet).

The items were gifted by Hawaiian Chief Kalaniopu'u to Captain Cook in 1779. They were later gifted to New Zealand’s national museum collection by Lord St Oswald in 1912. The stunning red and yellow pieces contain an estimated four million feathers.

Today's ceremony will be an elaborate one, where Hawaiian culture will be on full display. A shark hula will also take place which hasn't been performed in 200 years. Chief Kalaniopu'u was known as "the shark tamer."

Te Papa's Chief Executive Rick Ellis and kaihautū Arapata Hakiwai will experience the wero of the Kia'i or Hawaiian warriors who were welcomed to Te Papa last week when the delegation collected the taonga.

Te Papa Chief Executive Rick Ellis says the occasion celebrates the ties that bind together the peoples of the Pacific.

“To be here for this occasion, and witness the importance of these pieces to the Hawaiian people is truly humbling,”

Te Papa is founded on the principle of mana taonga. We recognise the spiritual connection that taonga – or treasures – have with their source communities. We know that there are stories that can only be told by those people, connections that only they can make. We believe that as a national museum, we will always be richer for our ability to connect these taonga with the communities they are part of,” says Ellis. 

A livestream of the ceremony can be found on the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Facebook page.