Ko Tawa: Maori Ancestors of New Zealand

Ko Tawa is a selection of 28 taonga from the extensive collection of Captain Gilbert Mair, each with its own unique story to tell.

Mair, or Tawa as he was known by Maori, played a significant role in New Zealand history both for his military prowess and Crown role as an advocate for Maori.

In his lifetime, Captain Gilbert Mair (1843 - 1923) was presented with many taonga - ancestral treasures - by Maori communities throughout the North Island.

Having grown up amongst Maori, Mair understood the importance of receiving such gifts and ensured the associated narratives remained attached to the taonga after he passed them into the safekeeping of Auckland Museum in 1890.

The result is a magnificent collection of 247 instruments, weapons, carvings and weavings, of which 28 have been selected for this exhibition.The collection is especially unique because the narratives associated with the taonga at the time of presentation have survived.

Ko Tawa celebrates these taonga and their associated narratives, remembered and presented by today's descendants.

It is through these stories, images and portraits that a rich cultural history of the land and it's people encompasses this exhibition.

Mair retired to Tauranga in his later life, and upon his death in 1923, was carried by Ngai Te Rangi to Rotorua via Maketu, before being laid to rest in front of St Faith’s church, Ohinemutu, alongside his old Maori comrades and friends.

Curated and toured by Tamaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum.