Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples today formally received a Maori feather cloak (kahu huruhuru) in Beijing, which will be temporarily loaned to Te Papa for display later this year.
The cloak was given to Chairman Mao Zedong in 1957 by New Zealand pioneer film maker Ramai Te Miha Hayward on behalf of the fifth Maori King, Koroki. It was presented to Dr Sharples and the Prime Minister's delegation at a ceremony at the National Museum of China in Beijing, China today.
"The kahu huruhuru is an important treasure and we are looking forward to bringing it home and giving New Zealanders the opportunity to see it," said Dr Sharples.
Ramai, and her husband Rudall Hayward, produced three films, including Inside Red China, which shows Ramai placing the feather cloak on Chairman Mao's shoulders.
The Haywards were part of a small delegation of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, invited to visit China in 1957.
Ramai presented the cloak to Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square telling him it was a gift of goodwill to the leaders of China from our Maori King of Aotearoa. She said: "We are the smallest nation in the world, giving this gift to the largest nation in the world." He replied: "The smallest is as great as the largest."
The cloak will be on display at Te Papa from 13 June to 20 October 2013.
Dr Sharples is accompanying Prime Minister John Key, who is leading a large business and cultural delegation on a five-day trade mission through China.