An exhibition celebrating 160 years of the Kīngitanga movement opens this weekend in Auckland, a city defended by a man who would become the first Māori king.
Te Paki o Matariki: 160 Years of Kiingitanga, which opens on Sunday, will display rare taonga from the private collection of Kiingi Tuheitia Pootatau Te Wherowhero VII which have not been seen together by the public before.
The groundbreaking exhibition is designed to enhance understanding of one of the world's most longstanding indigenous sovereignty movements, and tell more tangata whenua stories in the foundation of Auckland.
Tuuheitia, appointed in 2006 as the seventh successive Māori sovereign, said he was pleased to share his "most treasured taonga" with all New Zealanders and visitors.
"One hundred and sixty years ago, Auckland Domain was the home of my ancestor King Pōtatau Te Wherowhero, the first Māori King.
"It is my desire that these taonga create a deeper understanding of the shared history and contribution of the Kīngitanga on Auckland."
The Kīngitanga was founded in 1858, with the aim of unifying Māori people under one sovereign and to protect land.
Before Te Wherowhero of Waikato became the first king in 1858, he had lived in a cottage on Pukekawa, now Auckland Domain, provided by Governor George Grey, who greatly respected the warrior chief.
Pukekawa was an important pa site for Ngāti Whātua. It was the scene of multiple battles fought between Hongi Hika, leader of the Ngāpuhi from the north, and Te Wherowhero leading the local Ngāti Whātua.
It was on this site that a peace treaty was eventually agreed by the two tribes in 1828.
"Te Wherowhero saved Auckland," Kīngitanga representative and co-curator Te Warena Taua said.
"Had he not come to assist and stop the tribes up north coming to Auckland, there would be no Government in Auckland today. Sadly, after he died the Crown confiscated his lands in the Waikato."
Taua, who is also chairman of Te Kawerau Iwi Tribal Authority, said he hoped the exhibition would inspire greater understanding of tāngata whenua histories in the area, and of Kīngitanga in general.
"I hope the exhibition will give a broader understanding of the Kīngitanga, and also its place in Aotearoa. I think the Government and the Crown need to understand how big a role Kīngitanga has played in the history of Aoteaora."
Taonga on loan from Tuuheitia include the Kīngitanga throne, leaving Tūrangawaewae Marae for the first time; a whale bone tokotoko (traditional Māori carved ceremonial walking stick); and a kaitaka (fine flax chief's cloak with tāniko borders).
Auckland Museum Māori and Pacific projects and development tumuaki (leader) Linnae Pohatu said the museum was "proud and honoured" the Kīngitanga had chosen to partner with it to host the exhibition.
While the museum had "strong colonial roots", it had been making "real steps" in recent years towards telling more tāngata whenua stories.
"[Māori lawyer] Moana Jackson laid down a wero, challenge, for the museum sectors in New Zealand and Australia to find ways to better present the voices of those who have been historically silenced.
"So, for Auckland Museum, this exhibition is a very conscious step to engage iwi and tell the rest of the story of the development of Auckland and contributions of Māori.
"The Kīngitanga is one of the oldest indigenous sovereignty movements in the world, so to be able to share its story is a huge honour and privilege."
The museum this week received a $4.5m from the Lottery Grants Board Significant Projects Fund to start a permanent interactive gallery - Tāmaki Stories - to tell the stories of Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).
Pohatu, of Ngāti Porou and Ngāi Tahu descent, said she was still learning about the Kīngitanga herself, and hoped the exhibition would grow awareness.
"I hope visitors will get a sense of the contributions made by Māori, including Tainui, Waikato, Ngāti Whātua, and the Kīngitanga, made to the Auckland region.
"For Aucklanders, I hope it will make them more curious to find out more about how the city was developed, and the Kīngitanga.
"It represents mana motuhake, and an intent to abide by principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, despite what's happened to them over the years, and be a good partner to the Crown and other institutions."
Te Paki o Matariki: 160 Years of Kiingitanga will be on display in the Māori Court at Auckland War Memorial Museum from Sunday, October 28.