Yesterday members of Ngāti Paretekawa uplifted the kaitaka of Waikato Wars chief Rewi Manga Maniapoto and began the journey home to Te Rohe Pōtae. The kaitaka had been resting at Te Papa Museum since returning from the United Kingdom last year.
It had been discovered in a cupboard in England by a Sussex couple who traced it back to a Pākehā relative connected to Rewi Maniapoto. The taonga was moved to the Horniman Museum in London while discussions began to repatriate it for safekeeping to Te Papa in Wellington.
Lead negotiator Kawhia Muraahi says it’s a “significant return of a tūpuna taonga.” The kaitaka will go to Napinapi marae in Piopio, near Te Kūiti. It is expected that many hapū will be part of the event.
“Given that last week Maniapoto attended the final reading of the settlement bill, now, a week later, we have this significant taonga returning home. It comes on the heels of two major events for Ngāti Maniapoto.”
From his perspective, the negotiation process had been challenging due to Covid putting a rock in the road. But thanks to teams in the UK and in Aotearoa working in collaborative efforts, Muraahi says what was an “impossible plan from the very beginning” turned out to be a great success.
With Te Pūtake o te Riri also coming up in a few weeks, Muraahi says there is a mutual connection between it and the kaitaka. However, he is being cautious not to take away from the importance of its kaupapa on Orākou Commemoration day.