The E TU AKE: MAORI STANDING STRONG exhibition, presented at Musée de la civilisation from November 21, 2012, to September 8, 2013, is a captivating journey into the world of the Maori, New Zealand’s indigenous people. The exhibition showcases the courage, pride, dignity, and aspirations of the Maori people through invaluable ancestral treasures (taonga) and remarkable contemporary works. E TU AKE: Maori Standing Strong, a Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa exhibition, presented at Musée de la civilisation.
In all, some 155 of the most refined objects—including 68 rarely seen national treasures—are on display in this exhibition: carved dugout canoe prows, emblematic meeting house panels, elegant pendants, weapons, musical instruments, objects of adornment, and others. Made of wood, stone, jade, and shells, these objects demonstrate the extent to which the Maori live in communion with nature.
“Although our own cultural references are a vital component of the Museum’s programming, it is just as important to build bridges with those of other peoples,” stressed Musée de la civilisation executive director Michel Côté. “The E TU AKE: Maori Standing Strong exhibition explores the symbolism of objects to celebrate and introduce us to the culture of this legendary people of Oceania. We cannot help but draw a parallel between the aspirations, identity issues, and pride of the Maori and those of Québec’s aboriginal peoples,” he added. “The exhibition also encourages visitors to take a closer look at how they view their own society and the world,” Mr. Côté concluded.
Te Papa Tongarewa is very pleased to present E TU AKE: Maori Standing Strong at the Musée de la civilisation. E TU AKE: Maori Standing Strong is an exhibition that expresses deeply held values and a world view of the Maori people of Aotearoa New Zealand; a culture that still finds relevance today in a fast- changing world heavily influenced by technology and the impacts of global warming. Since their first encounter with British explorers and the subsequent signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, Maori people have sought to forge enduring relationships with the British Crown represented by the settler government and those who have made New Zealand their home. This partnership has not always been mutually beneficial and has been frought with challenges for the Maori people. E TU AKE: Maori Standing Strong is an indigenous account of cultural continuity, strength and pride that has transcended time through its cultural depth and artistic diversity in not only its material culture but also oral traditions and recent efforts to revive cultural practices and customs, said Mrs Michelle Hippolite, Maori Leader of Te Papa (Kaihautu).
The themes addressed in the exhibition reflect the Maori way of thinking and living, as well their values and customs. I Mua I Muri, (the past is in front of us, the future is behind) is one of the two overarching concepts of the exhibition, and it reminds us that the Maori people hold the words of their ancestors deep within themselves. But it is the concept of Tino Rangatiratanga (self determination), or Maori control over all things Maori, that lies at the heart of the exhibition. At every turn, the exhibition illustrates how interrelated and inseparable the traditional and contemporary Maori themes are. Ancestral Maori treasures from Aotearoa New Zealand (name that acknowledges New Zealand’s biculturalism) stand alongside contemporary works to show the artistic depth and political aspirations of this indigenous culture.
A Three-Part Look at Maori Culture
The exhibition explores three major themes: Whakapapa (ties that bind, or genealogy), Mana (way of being), and Kaitiakitanga (environmental protection and guardianship). To introduce visitors to the fundamental aspects of this culture, concepts of I Mua I Muri (interrelated nature of time) and Tino Rangatiratanga (self determination) are explained and illustrated using a Maori stone (made of greenstone or pounamu)—which the public is welcome to touch—an audio clip of traditional Maori music (taonga püoro), drawings and texts taken from the Treaty of Waitangi (declaration of independence signed in 1840), and contemporary works by Reuben Patterson (videographic pieces) and Saffron Te Ratana (PW1- Tiki Remix).
In the Maori world view, all things are related. This interconnectedness between people, the natural environment, and inanimate objects is whakapapa—a system that defines the cultural identity of the Maori. Genealogy, rites, and stories are vital to the Maori. They identify with these things through the waka (the canoe that brought their ancestors to New Zealand) and their ta moko (skin markings that symbolize each individual’s origin). The exhibit features a 20th century whare tupuna (ancestral meeting house). This type of meeting house was built to shelter and protect future generations.
This part of the exhibition showcases outstanding examples of Maori know-how and thinking: a cenotaph (presented in the Museum lobby due to its size), the prow (tauihu) and stern (taurapa) of a canoe, paddles (hoe), pendants (tiki), a treasure box (waka huia), a greenstone weapon (mere pounamu), the life mask of Chief Wiremu Te Manewha, ceremonial adzes (toki poutangata), stockade post, posts, support poles, and meeting house panels. Contemporary works by Darryn George (Matapihi #4, #5, and #6) and Lisa Reihana (Tukutuku) are interspersed with these traditional objects.
Expressions of Mana (way of being)
Mana is a Maori symbol. It is a force that resides in people, animals, and inanimate objects. It is inherited through whakapapa and one’s own personal achievements. Mana can be expressed outwardly through taonga raka (personal treasures), taonga puoro (traditional music), and te reo maori (Maori language, which enjoyed a renaissance in the 20th century). This section of the exhibition also looks at the important role of Maori women. Numerous objects illustrate this, giving visitors greater insight into Maori culture: personal treasures, instruments and objects used in the art of skin marking, capes, weaving implements, woven works, pendants (tiki), adornments, jewels, ornaments, puppets (karetao), musical instruments, legal texts, objects connected to the 1975 Maori Land March, and others.
This section includes works by various artists, including Diane Prince (Nga Puhihi o nga Whetu), Robyn Ngai Tyhoe, Darryn George, Diane Prince, Shane Cotton, and Robyn Kahukiwa.
Kaitiakitanga (environmental protection and guardianship)
Kaitiakitanga addresses the environment. In the Maori world view, all things—living and inanimate—are interconnected, and come from Papatuanuki (the earth mother) and Ranginui (the sky father). Human beings are both part of this natural order and its guardians. Kaitiakitanga requires Maori people to protect and manage the resources on their land. The Maori have a different relationship with nature than we do. The land and fishing are vital to their survival. This section also looks at the big 2004 march against the Foreshore and Seabed Act that gave ownership of the shoreline and seabed to the New Zealand government.
In this section, items related to fishing and hunting, a Maori flag, objects symbolizing power, and fighting sticks (taiaha) illustrate the Maori’s struggle to protect and manage their territorial resources.
A striking digital work, Uncle Tasman: the trembling current that scars the Earth, by Nathalie Robertson and another by Brett Graham, Foreshore and Seabed Defender, are also on display here.
E TU AKE: Maori Standing Strong, a Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa exhibition, presented at Musée de la civilisation in Québec City from November 21, 2012, to September 8, 2013.
This exhibition was made possible through the support of the New Zealand Government.
Media relations: Serge Poulin, 418 528-2072; email: email@example.com