For one night of the year, as part of the Hawke's Bay Arts Festival, Napier City hosts a live arts event, Nuit Blanche – Art After Dark, so that everyone can experience Napier City through the convergence of light rays, with focus on the art world.
It's something originally out of the city of Paris, known today as La Ville Lumiere, or the City of Light.
Held in Napier last Saturday evening, cafes, bars and restaurants were open. Bands were playing with people dancing in the streets while enveloped in digital light shows. Galleries were open, exhibitions were showing, and at MTG the public were viewing the many objects on display, reading text panels for information and engaging with staff.
As Curator Māori I was stationed in the Tēnei Tonu exhibition to share oral history on the many taonga Māori on display with the public.
Many were interested in the old river waka and also the genealogy of the ancestor of Hawke's Bay, Kahungunu himself, and his eight wives going back in time through the arrival of the Takitimu canoe, linking it with Hawaiiki, then going back further to Ionui and the beginning of creation.
A river canoe was the Toyota Corolla of the time and spent its life time travelling the main Hawke's Bay rivers of Tukituki, Tutaekuri, and Ngaruroro, these being the motorways of the period.
Children were enthralled with it and amazed that something like this was more than 100 years old. They were also fascinated when comprehending that there were no roads back then and travel was only by foot or canoe with much travel between Hawke's Bay, Wellington and Gisborne, not to mention Auckland.
Displayed in Tenei Tonu is the genealogy of Kahungunu Māori. This genealogy starts with Ionui and the creation of the world, to Ioroa, then to Io Te Mataaho, Io Taketake, Io Waananga, Io Tikitiki-i-te-Rangi, and then to Ranginui and Papatūānuku, sky father and earth mother.
These later two of course being the parents of all the progenitors of life as we know it, the gods who manage the different "government departments" of the Māori world. Tangaroa for example manages Tākitimu Seafoods, Tāwhirimātea manages MetService and the America's Cup, and so forth with their other siblings. Last count there were about 70 of these offspring with their own rules, regulations and policies.
From each of these departments this genealogy continues its descent as it arrives at Hawaiiki and eventually comes down to Tamatea Ārikinui who captained the Takitimu waka for its migration to Aotearoa.
From Tamatea Ārikinui this genealogy continues down further to his son Rongokako, to his son Tamatea-Pōkai-Whenua-Pōkai-Moana who fathered Kahungunu, the founding ancestor of Ngāti Kahungunu.
This genealogy continues further down through the eight wives of Kahungunu to eventually establishing Ngāti
Kahungunu as we know it from Hawke's Bay through the Wairarapa and over the
Remutaka Range in the mid 1500s. From here it is only a hop, jump and a skip down from Kahungunu to present day 2020 Hawke's Bay.
The Tenei Tonu exhibition in MTG is the repository of Māori whakapapa from the beginning of creation down the eons of time to present day, and those wishing to learn their genealogy back to Ionui need only come into MTG to view this genealogy exhibited for all to see and learn. It gives a sense of purpose and grounds one to where they come from in this big cosmos.
• Te Hira Henderson is Curator Taonga Maori at the MTG