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About

He Tohu is a permanent exhibition of 3 iconic constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand.

  • He Whakaputanga — Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand
  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi — Treaty of Waitangi
  • Women's Suffrage Petition — Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine

See these fragile and priceless documents in the document room, which is inspired by the form and function of a waka huia – treasure container. Experience the state-of-the-art conservation space, designed to preserve the documents for generations to come. Enjoy the interactive displays that allow you to engage with the documents and discover your own personal connections.


Contents

Detail of He Whakaputanga, showing signatures.

A declaration: He Whakaputanga

He Whakaputanga – the Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand is hugely important. It was how rangatira (Māori leaders) told the world, back in 1835, that New Zealand was an independent Māori nation.
Detail of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, showing signatures.

A treaty: Te Tiriti o Waitangi

Te Tiriti o Waitangi — the Treaty of Waitangi is the agreement that Aotearoa New Zealand is built on. It has often been hotly debated, and at times ignored or broken but, for many New Zealanders, it remains a source of hope and optimism for our future.
Detail of the Women's Suffrage Petition, showing signatures.

A petition: Women’s Suffrage Petition

The Women’s Suffrage Petition — Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine led to New Zealand becoming the first country in the world where all women gained the right to vote in general elections. Thanks to the women who created, organised and signed the petition.
Visitors looking at Te Tiriti o Waitangi at the He Tohu exhibition opening.

Partnerships

The He Tohu exhibition has been developed in partnership between Crown and Māori, with significant input from women’s groups nationwide.
Timeline wall at He Tohu exhibition.

The exhibition

Find out what you will see and experience when you come to the He Tohu exhibition. Read about the awards that He Tohu exhibition has won.
Image of girl alongside text about He Tohu

He Tohu Tāmaki

He Tohu Tāmaki is a learning experience for schools in the Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland region, based on the award-winning exhibition at the National Library in Wellington.
The document cases in the document room.

He whakapapa kōrero: The document room

Learn about the extraordinary curved room that holds He Whakaputanga, Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the 1893 Women's Suffrage Petition. The room is designed to protect and enhance the mana of the precious documents it holds.
Conservators Around Tiriti.

Preserving the documents

Find out how our fragile and priceless documentary history is being preserved for future generations. What are the challenges for conservators and what technology is being used to protect the documents?
Māori warriors leading the move of the documents.

Moving the documents

Find out how the documents in the He Tohu exhibition were moved 200m from Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga to the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa in preparation for the opening of the He Tohu exhibition.