130 years a house was taken from its home and people, on 17 September 2011 the house comes home. Ngāti Awa and the Mātaatua confederation of tribes will celebrate the return and reopen 'the house that came home.' The story of the long journey of Mātaatua Wharenui is compelling, it encapsulates the truth of who we are and what has happened here. It is a story of loss, of hope, of disrespect, of redress, of mana, of honour, of people. It is our story and it is time we learned it.
Built as a symbol of the unity, strength and resilience of Ngāti Awa - a people who had suffered severely at the hands of colonisation and resulting land confiscation, the impressive Mātaatua Wharenui was originally opened in Whakatane in 1875.
Five years later, the intricately carved Māori house was uplifted by the New Zealand Government to represent the country at some of the most respected anthropological exhibitions of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
For well over a century, Mātaatua, the travelling house, would be lost to the people who needed it most. Despite calls by successive Ngāti Awa leaders to have the house returned to Whakatane, Mātaatua would remain alone, without its people and miles from home.
A 1996 Waitangi Tribunal Special Deed of Settlement finally saw Mātaatua returned to Ngāti Awa. The past 15 years have been dedicated to restoring Mātaatua to its original magnificence.
Tears well in my eyes - I am so happy this is happening. This is the way forward - I only wish the country would celebrate this too - it is a significant event that is bringing us together.
Hat tip - Introducing Maori Lifestyles