5 Sep 2021

Hinemihi Te Ao Tawhito - He Tāonga Kōrero

From Te Ahi Kaa, 6:06 pm on 5 September 2021

Hinemihi Te Ao Tawhito is the subject of books, a doctoral thesis and photographs, episode three explores why her story resonates with those willing to tell it. 

Dr Anthony Hoete is Professor Architecture (Māori) at The University of Auckland.

Dr Anthony Hoete is Professor Architecture (Māori) at The University of Auckland. Photo: Supplied:

Dr Anthony Hoete has whakapapa links to Ngāti Awa, Te Patuwai and Ngāti Ranana he left Aotearoa in 1990 and lived in England for the next thirty years.  

He first came to know about Hinemihi from Professor Dean Sully who had been in touch with one of his old school teachers Jim Schuster.

Schuster had taken up a new role in marae conservation for Pouhere Tāonga. In 2005 when the three met up at Clandon Park to discuss the future care and restoration of Hinemihi.

‘She helped keep me connected to things back home in aotearoa and kept me connected to Māoritanga in other wise a pretty British and English existence and I as pretty grateful for that” Hoete says.

The book decolonising conservation explore tāonga Māori and the connection these have to people, in this case Hoete agrees that it is about the preservation of use and not the preservation of materials.

“That means the whare ceases to exist unless we use the whare so stay overnight as part of the necessity …with Hinemihi there was always a desire certainly by her community [and] by a diaspora much more diverse than Aotearoa…she has a whakapapa which gives her an iwi authority back in Aotearoa, but she was mainly in the service of Ngāti Ranana, the Māori and Pacific communities.” Hoete says.

Dr Anthony Hoete is Professor Architecture (Māori) at the School of Architecture and Planning at The University of Auckland.

Dr Keri-Anne Wikitera at Te Pakira Marae, Whakarewarewa.

Dr Keri-Anne Wikitera at Te Pakira Marae, Whakarewarewa. Photo: RNZ/Justine Murray

Dr Keri-Anne Wikitera is a Senior lecturer at School of Hospitality and Tourism at Auckland University of Technology, she is a researcher with Nga Pae o te Māramatanga and calls Auckland home, she has whakapapa links to Tuhourangi and Ngāti Whakaue.  Before she set out to do the research for her doctoral thesis she sought permission first and approached Jim Schuster.

“I happened to be sitting next to him at lunch at this conference so I asked him and he said anyone that can help with our tupuna Hinemihi all the better so I took that as permission and started my research journey “ she says. 

Interviews with Māori living in London was integral to the research, and Keri-Anne witnessed the maintenance days leading up to the annual hangi day on the 10th of June at Clandon Park.  The event is attended by over four hundred people, the logistics managed by the likes of Te Kōhanga Reo o Ngāti Ranana, Ngāti Ranana and Te Maru o Hinemihi. As part of her trip she connected with Ngāti Ranana at the New Zealand house High Commission.

“We had the pōwhiri and the kaumatua that got up to speak actually recognised Hinemihi as Ngāti Ranana whare which really struck me because they don’t whakapapa to the meeting house necessarily but they consider her to be their place where they can go to and be Māori” she says

Keri-Anne recalls a conference she attended recently where academic Dr Ngahuia Te Awekotuku talked about living in London and when there was news of death or tangihanga back home, she would go to Hinemihi to mourn.

In 2015 Keri-Anne completed her Doctoral thesis ‘Māori Spaces in Foreign Places –Hinemihi Te Ao Tawhito’.

Mark Adams uses a large format camera in his work.

Mark Adams uses a large format camera in his work. Photo: Te Papa Tongarewa

Documentary Photographer Mark Adams at Uenuku Mai Rarotonga wharenui at Punawhakareia Marae,  2020.

Documentary Photographer Mark Adams at Uenuku Mai Rarotonga wharenui at Punawhakareia Marae, 2020. Photo: Hamish Coney

Documentary photographer Mark Adams and Hamish Coney collaborated on the exhibition Hinemihi Te Hokinga – The Return at Two Rooms gallery in Auckland, 2020.  It was the first time that Adams photos of Hinemihi were exhibited in one space. 

Adams uses a large format camera with 10 inch by 8 inch film, the result is a larger more detailed picture. Adams interests include the context of Pākeha relationships with Polynesians in Aotearoa.  The book ‘Rauru - Tene Waitere Carving Colonial History’ centres on the story of the whare Rauru at the Museum für Völkerkunde, Hamburg. The book ws written by Nicholas Thomas, Mark Adams, James Schuster and Lyonel Grant and published in 2013. Hinemihi was also carved by Tene Waitere and Wero Taroi.

“That [book] was basically about Hinemihi, Rauru and Te Tiki a Tamamutu which was at Spa Hotel in Taupo all of these houses have a Pākeha connection…but we are not just photographing the houses,  we are photographing the context and that means the spaces where the houses are.” he says.

Mark Adams joins Te Ahi Kaa from his home at Oxford, North Canterbury.

Alan Gallop met Emily Schuster in 1986 as part of a touring group, fascinated by the story of Hinemihi he wrote the book The House with the Golden Eyes.

Alan Gallop met Emily Schuster in 1986 as part of a touring group, fascinated by the story of Hinemihi he wrote the book The House with the Golden Eyes. Photo: Supplied

In 1998 Alan Gallop published the book ‘The House with the Golden Eyes’ about the history of Hinemihi Te Ao Tawhito, the name inspired by the eyes of the carvings inside Hinemihi made of gold sovereign coins.

Alan is often called upon to provide talks or discussions about the history of Hinemihi, the former journalist was the first Chair of the collective, Te Maru O Hinemihi.

In 2016 the carvings of Hinemihi were removed and are stored at Knole house. Alan Gallop visited the carvings around Christmas time last year and talks about the conservation process.

Listen to the first episode here

Listen to the second episode here.