23 Apr 2024

Te Papa takes down Treaty of Waitangi panel damaged in protest

11:37 am on 23 April 2024
Te Papa has replaced the Treaty of Waitangi panel damaged in December 2023 with a temporary display.

Te Papa has replaced the Treaty of Waitangi panel damaged in December 2023 with a temporary display. Photo: Supplied / Te Papa

Te Papa has replaced the Treaty of Waitangi panel damaged in a protest last year.

The wooden display panel showing an English version of the Treaty of Waitangi was defaced with spray paint and an angle grinder in December.

Twelve people were arrested, with eight formally trespassed and release without charge. A 29-year-old man was charged with intentional damage, obstructing police, and breach of bail, and a 53-year-old woman was charged with intentional damage. A 46-year-old man and 52-year old woman were charged with breach of bail.

The panel was left up over summer, and replaced on Tuesday with a temporary display which will remain until a full-scale alteration of the exhibition space.

The video projection shows differences between te Tiriti in te reo Māori and Captain William Hobson's 1840 English version.

It points to a 1988 translation by Professor Sir Hugh Kawharu, which is considered much closer to the understanding of Māori who signed te Tiriti, a statement from Te Papa said.

Te Papa co-leaders Kaihautū Dr Arapata Hakiwai and Tumu Whakarae Courtney Johnston said the digital display would be a valuable for visitors from Aotearoa and abroad.

"This digital display will help visitors deepen their understanding and foster informed conversations."

"Our focus now is on the process to develop the permanent exhibition."

"We are looking to totally transform the space to create an experience of te Tiriti that is relevant for our audiences today, and in the future."

Treaty of Waitangi exhibit in Te Papa

Te Waka Hourua, he Māori group affiliated with Extinction Rebellion, said the English display was not accurate, and it had repeatedly called for it to be taken down. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

Mana whenua led a karakia before the work began in the exhibition space. Ngāti Toa Rangatira placed a kōhatu mauri (mauri stone) in the space, and Te Āti Awa Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika placed a raukura (plume of feathers).

Callum Kātene, Chair of Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira said Ngāti Toa was supportive of Te Papa's desire to revisit and redesign the exhibition.

"The meaning and relevance of our founding document is highly topical right now, so providing a fresh view to inform contemporary conversations is important.

"Just as important is the inclusion of a wide representation of relevant voices, such as Tīriti signatory representatives and historical and other academic experts.

"We are delighted Te Papa has agreed to make this happen."

The museum is storing the damaged panel, but has not decided on its future.

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