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He whakapapa kōrero: The document room

The document cases in the document room.

Image: Inside 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.

Peaceful and contemplative space

He whakapapa kōrero is inspired by a waka huia — a treasure box. The treasure box holds the 3 iconic constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand, the:

  • 1835 He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni — Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand
  • 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi — Treaty of Waitangi
  • 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition — Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine

This amazing room is made of rimu, a native New Zealand timber that was sustainably sourced after a storm felled it on West Coast of the South Island.

The areas around the entrances are carved in a pattern of interfering waves. The waves indicate that the documents made waves and were the result of different cultures and points of view meeting.

Outside the entrances to he whakapapa kōrero are wai whakanoa. These are bowls with water available to cleanse the tapu/sacredness of being with the taonga/tupuna.

Entrance to the document room at the He Tohu exhibition, features traditional carving.
Image: Entrance to he whakapapa kōrero at the He Tohu exhibition.

Hand-crafted elements of the room

Carver Bernard Makoare used traditional techniques of adzing to create the entrance panel to He Tohu. The toko wananga designs are traditional ancient designs depicting the most fundamental energy of the atua —  Tūmatauenga, Rongomaraeroa, Tāwhirimātea, Tangaroa,

 The atua are represented by 4 tokotoko carved by with advice from Cliff Whiting. These tokotoko live around the He Tohu space.

Tokotoko at He Tohu

Tokotoko are important taonga, especially for kaikōrero (orators). The 4 tokotoko has been created for the He Tohu exhibition and will be available for use by kaikōrero, if required, in times of formal oratory. 

Te Tāngaroa reflects the phrase immortalised in the carved meeting house at Waitangi opened at the centenary celebrations for the Treaty of Waitangi in 1940. After the events of the move of the taonga from Archives New Zealand to National Library this tokotoko will be able to claim, “ko au ano tetahi i reira” that is ‘I, indeed was also one who was there!'.

Bernard carved these taonga from his own supplies of rare rata.

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