Tears flow at exhibition start

MICHELLE SUTTON
Last updated 15:42 18/09/2012
Peter Millward
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
SHINE A LIGHT: rovincial Museum chief executive Peter Millward uses a touch screen display at the Taranaki War Exhibition at the Nelson Provincial Museum.

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Links between Nelson and Taranaki residents are explored in an award-winning exhibition at Nelson Provincial Museum.

The connections between the two provinces dating from the 1860s' Taranaki War are on show at an exhibition called Te Ahi Ka Roa, Te Ahi Katoro, Taranaki War 1860-2010: Our Legacy, Our Challenge.

Museum chief executive Peter Millward said the exhibition had already provoked an emotional response from residents and iwi, who were the great-great-grandchildren of families affected by painful events on show in the exhibition.

"You could tell the link is still there by the amount of tears on Saturday [at the exhibition opening]," he said.

The painful past of the Taranaki War had a direct link with Nelson families and iwi.

Some Nelson and Marlborough Maori sent waka with supplies and ammunition to the Taranaki land war that broke out in 1860.

About 1200 European refugees from Taranaki arrived in Nelson in 1860. They were supported by Nelson residents who built emergency housing for them in Waimea Rd.

Nelson militia were also involved in the storming of the pacifist Maori settlement at Parihaka in Taranaki, and the settlement's Maori leaders were later held under house arrest in Nile St, Nelson in 1882 before being returned to Taranaki the following year.

Nelson's Cindy Batt, a descendant of the iwi with links to the Taranaki War, said the exhibition was full of wairua (soul/spirit).

Her uncle, Hone Nuku Tarawhiti, a Footprints of the Maori tour guide, was also moved by the exhibition because of the links that remained present in Nelson today. "The descendants of these North Taranaki vikings today currently hold land shares and interests with other Maori shareholders from tribes connected to the top of the South Island . . . administered by the Wakatu Incorporation in Nelson which is evident of footprints of the past and the legacy of today."

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