A significant gift proposed for the united nations and created in rotorua will be discussed in new york this month.

Sixty-eight iwi maintained their staunch support for the united nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples at waitangi on february 5.

A delegation on behalf of the national iwi chairs forum will leave for new york on friday to begin discussions with the united nations and the indigenous people of new york. The focus of the discussions is the gifting of a bronze whatarangi (elevated storehouse) as a symbol of endorsement for the declaration by maori.

The gift - called maori tu - is being created at the new zealand maori arts and crafts institute (nzmaci) at te puia.


The initiative involves the creation of two whatarangi - a wooden carved original to remain in new zealand and a four-tonne bronze cast version, which is proposed to be presented to the united nations.

The bronze taonga has the mandate of the forum, which represents 68 iwi around new zealand, through the signing of a declaration called te ohaki tautoko a maori tu in november 2014.

Members of the delegation travelling to new york include nzmaci director and forum technical adviser karl johnstone, six representatives from te aitanga-a-mahaki (gisborne to east coast) and two from ngaruahine (taranaki to west coast).

Paramount chief of ngati tuwharetoa and iwi leaders group chairman for maori tu, sir tumu te heuheu, said one of the project's key objectives was to create a wider awareness of the declaration, including its social and political context, and its importance to maori and to new zealand.

"We hope that over time, other nations, including those throughout the pacific, will connect to this kaupapa (initiative). We expect that the taonga will also help define a set of values to help foster the future relationship between iwi and the united nations."

Mr johnstone said the tohu (symbol) of the whatarangi was chosen for maori tu as the storehouse represented the wealth and importance of maori cultural heritage. "The whatarangi is a symbol of safe-keeping, identity and cultural wellbeing, and it represents the storage and maintenance of tangible and intangible heritage. These are all aspects that the declaration sets out to protect."

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Mr johnstone said the korero (stories) captured in the carving referenced a range of maori values and social frameworks, including tapu (regulation), whakapapa (connectivity), manaakitanga (benevolence), kaitiakitanga (sustainability), mana (prestige) and concepts of humanity.

United nations development programme administrator helen clark visited the institute foundry in august 2014 and declared the project to be an "enormous" and "exciting undertaking". At the time, she said that the use of bronze was "a concrete statement of a culture that has stood through time and continues to do so".

Maori Tu Whatarangi:

* Being created at the new zealand maori arts and crafts institute at te puia

* Base 1600mm x 2375mm

* Paepae (barge board) 2400mm

* Support pole 2375mm

* Total height 3650mm

* Estimated weight 4 to 4.5 tonne