Local Maori history is the focus of a new exhibition at the South Canterbury Museum opening in time for the school holidays.
The exhibition, developed in co-operation with Arowhenua Marae and Waiho Marae, is called Te Hikoi: The journey of local Maori communities in the face of change.
Local Maori communities have faced massive changes over the past 150 years as a result of European settlement and this exhibition looks at how they have responded and adapted to these challenges, said museum director Philip Howe.
Challenges ranged from loss of traditional food resources to the influence of Christianity, the lack of government support in providing schools and medical care as promised, and, most importantly, the loss of most of their land.
The exhibition provides a focus on some of these issues, their ongoing effects and how Maori communities have responded, seeking to obtain justice while maintaining and carrying their identity forward, he said.
The exhibition also explores the loyalty and pride of local Maori in being counted as part of the wider New Zealand community in their willingness to honour coronation ceremonies, to fight in wars overseas, and to engage in a variety of sporting and cultural events.
"A wonderful assortment of historic and more recent photographs augment a small number of highly significant artefacts," Mr Howe said. Te Hikoi also highlights a "very significant" 800-year-old taoka (treasure) on loan from Canterbury Museum that highlights the long link between the people and the land, he said.
The unique carved wooden taoka, known as the Temuka Crescent, is believed to date from the early settlement period, and is a strong visual reminder of the connections that Maori have with their early history here, he said.
Following an early morning blessing by local marae representatives, the exhibition will open to the public from 10am on Saturday.
Museum curator Davina Davis will give short talks as will Canterbury Museum senior history curator Roger Fyfe.
Te Hikoi will be on display at the South Canterbury Museum until Sunday, December 1.
- The Timaru Herald