Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Te Papa Museum

A few weeks ago, Shani and I went to Te Papa Museum, New Zealand's premier national museum. It boasts 4 floors and houses all kinds of exhibitions including geographic, space and other natural exhibits. We were interested in the Maori section and so focused on that here.

A waka (canoe)

Intricate carvings

Close-up of guardian (fertile!)
Inside the waka

As I mentioned in previous entries, a marae is a meeting place, where the community gets together. It is made up of a series of buildings, including the wharenui (big house), the store house, the wharekai (eating house) and other smaller buildings.

Powhiris are done in front of the wharenui.

The Wharenui

Entrance to the Wharenui

Inside the wharenui (not many wharenuis have so much carving inside. Some Iwi have more carvings in their wharenui than others; it all depends on the skill and number of carvers in each Iwi. Some Iwi are better known for their warriors, others for their carving skills, others for their waka constructions etc...)
Close-up of one of the carvings (with abalone or paua used for the eyes)

Carvings on the backside indicative of mokos (tattoos) (see entry on Mitai Maori Village in Rotorua to see a real moko on a chief's body)

More carvings inside the wharenui

The storehouse, where food was stored for the Iwi; this one was donated by the Te Arawa Iwi; the size of the storehouse showed the mana (prestige) of the Iwi; this is a large one, which indicates the wealth of the Iwi.

Close-up of carving by the storehouse

After looking at the wharenui and the storehouse, we went to the Marae, the main entrance to the complex of buildings. Things in the museums are not set up in exactly the way things would be set up normally, but it gives you an idea of the different buildings found in Maraes. The marae at Te Papa is quite unique. They opted for a modern version of the traditional structure.

Modern Marae

Close-up of Modern Marae

Below: a video of the Marae

Below: a video of the sound of a conch used in traditional music; note the difference with the way Haitians have used it

Below: a series of different traditional Maori instruments and what they sound like

Below: using gourdes as instruments

I highly recommend going to Te Papa when in Wellington. It's a beautifully made museum, very modern and free! This is the first time I've gone to a museum that was free. They accept donations, though, so donate freely. There are many other exhibits to see, so I hope to return and see some of the other ones before leaving Wellington. Hope you enjoyed the abridged tour.

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