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A largely forgotten historic Maori flagpole given to Prince Edward in 1920 will be installed at Cambridge University in England later this week.

A ceremony to install the 8m high, 300kg flagpole - carved by Tene Waitere - will be held at the university's Museum of Archeology and Anthropology on Thursday.

The museum's director Professor Nick Thomas said the flagpole or pouhaki was the most important object the museum had acquired in decades.

"Tene Waitere was an astonishing artist. His understanding of the carving traditions was profound, but his instinct was invariably to do something new, to take Maori art to places it had never been before."

Waitere's great grandson James Schuster of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust would attend the ceremony and recite karakia (Maori prayers) to settle the spirit of the pole in its new home.

"When I see works of my koroua (great-grandfather) for the first time, tears roll down my face," Mr Schuster said.

"It touches your heart; they're such a long way from home. I feel real aroha (love) for them. They're taking Maori culture and heritage to the world."

After being gifted to Prince Edward, who later became King Edward VIII for 326 days before abdicating, the pole languished for years at HMS Excellent, the naval shore base on Portsmouth's Whale Island.

Mr Thomas offered to house it at the museum after Mr Schuster told him of its existence.

- NZPA