Te Rarawa taonga returns from overseas exhibition

By Te Ao - Māori News

One of Te Rarawa's most prized taonga and New Zealand's oldest wooden carving, the 'Tangonge' has returned home after its 10-month journey with the Oceania exhibition in London and Paris.

The Tangonge artefact was specifically requested as a signature work to feature in the Oceania exhibition in London and Paris. 

Te Rūnga o te Rarawa Chair Haami Piripi says, "I was amazed at the local people's reception, they were in awe of its presence.  From London, it travelled to Paris and resided there for three months.  They too, were astonished at its presence because of its connection to the Pacific."

Created between the 14th and 16th centuries and carved from a single piece of totara. the taonga is more than 2.3 metres long.  It shows similarites with many other taonga in the Pacific.

“Some Tahitian artefacts have similarities to this artefact, it's probably a connection of where our ancestors came from.  Where did Kupe venture to?  We are his descendants,” says Piripi.

There are future aspirations to research the Tangonge's genealogical links to Tahiti.

“There have been suggestions to go back to Maupiti in Tahiti.  It's a discussion we need to have because there is an interest in bringing those conversations together.”

But for now, there are other plans for the taonga.

“For now, the taonga will rest.  As we heard today, there is a desire for the artefact to return home and justifiably so.  The iwi want a chance to embrace it.”

It's been nearly seven years since the Tangonge returned to the Te Rarawa region, it's hoped it will inspire the iwi.