February 17, 2016
Cook cloak gift to return to Hawaii
Repatriation has become a two way street for Te Papa.
New Zealand’s national museum has taken the lead in getting Maori remains and taonga returned to Aotearoa either permanently or for short term loan.
Now it’s sending a priceless feather cloak and helmet gifted to Captain Cook in 1779 back to Hawai’i.
They’ll be handed over to a Hawaiian delegation on March 11 and will go on display a week later at the Bishop Musumu in Honolulu, where they will stay for at least 10 years.
The Dominion Museum acquired the 'ahu'ula (cloak) and mahiole (helmet) in 1912 as part of a collection gifted by English aristocrat Rowland Winn, the second Baron St Oswald.
They were worn by the chief of Hawai‘i Island, Kalani‘opu‘u, the day he greeted Cook in Kealakekua Bay and were presented as a sign of goodwill.
The cloak has feathers from about 20,000 birds, which would be trapped, a few feathers taken, and then the birds released alive to grow more.
It is considered by Native Hawaiians to embody the life essence of a thriving abundant environment which is a sign of leadership.
Te Papa kauhautu Arapata Hakiwai says the taonga have much to say about shared Pacific history, and the museum is honoured to be able to reconnect them with their land and their people.
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