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Moving the documents

Māori warriors leading the move of the documents.

Image: Warriors leading the move of the documents from Archives New Zealand to the National Library of New Zealand.

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.

Historic pre-dawn ceremonial procession

He Tohu replaces the previous display of these documents in the Constitution Room at Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga.

New Zealand’s most precious founding documents were accompanied to their new home in the early hours of Saturday, 22 April, by a ceremonial procession led by a Ngāpuhi tohunga performing karakia. Led by Ngāpuhi, the procession included iwi from throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, women’s groups, church leaders, military, and government officials.

The 3 documents are:

  • 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

Tight security and strict archival conditions

The documents were moved under tight security and strict archival conditions. In addition to the safe and secure transfer of the documents by Archives New Zealand, the move was of particular significance to the descendants of the signatories and others with strong connections to the documents. For Māori, the move was a sacred tikanga event, uplifting the mana and tapu elements of these 3 taonga.

This unique historical event marked a new stage in the life of the documents. While the documents would now be housed at the National Library, they would remain under the guardianship and care of the Chief Archivist and Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga.

The trip from Archives to the Library

Watch this short video of the historic pre-dawn ceremonial procession.

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