National | New Zealand Wars

Te Papa launches book on war taonga and their significance to New Zealand history

New Zealand’s national museum unveiled today a significant addition to history with the launch of Te Ata o Tū: The Shadow of Tūmatauenga, a comprehensive work chronicling the New Zealand Wars and their artifacts.

Hundreds gathered for the launch, held in Wellington. It attracted people from all walks of life from Iwi leaders to cultural enthusiasts, and marks a pivotal moment in the nation’s acknowledgement and preservation of its tumultuous past.

Author Matiu Baker said what made Te Ata o Tū stand out from other New Zealand history books was its focus on artifacts. From weaponry wielded during battles to personal accounts penned by soldiers and civilians, the collection offers a multifaceted insight into this defining period of Aotearoa’s history.

“The story about Pūmaka’s flag is a powerful story, I think.

Fostering a ‘deeper understanding’

“It really is framed by all the hope and the despair of the Treaty narrative between Busby’s arrival, the gifting of the flag to the Ngāpuhi rangatira, choosing the haki (flag) and then the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi,” he says.

Te Papa kaihautū Māori Dr Arapata Hakiwai emphasised the importance of Te Ata o Tū in fostering a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding the New Zealand Wars. He highlighted the museum’s commitment to providing a platform for diverse narratives, ensuring that voices long marginalised by history were given due recognition and respect.

“This is a significant treasure because there are many artifacts inside the museum related to our battles. Therefore, it’s been a long time coming to bring these stories forward,

“We hope this is an important part for Te Papa Tongarewa to play in healing our nation but also making sure those histories are never forgotten and to raise them up, and that we remember and celebrate those.”

Attendees were able to gain firsthand perspectives of the challenges faced by both Māori and Pākehā communities during this turbulent era via the immersive experiences.

Te Ata o Tū is now on sale in bookstores nationwide, inviting readers to delve into the rich tapestry of New Zealand’s past and contemplate its enduring legacy.