Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi.
Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi (opened in 2016) weaves together the stories and taonga (treasured objects) which bring to life the history of Waitangi and Aotearoa New Zealand’s founding documents.
The museum features two galleries – Ko Waitangi Tēnei: This is Waitangi on the ground floor and a gallery for temporary exhibitions on the first floor.
The award-winning museum features over 500 images, six immersive audio-visual experiences, and two large interactive touchscreens. It tells the story of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Treaty of Waitangi from multiple perspectives to achieve an authentic and accurate representation of events.
The signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Treaty of Waitangi
Visitors are taken on a journey through historical moments as they happened – leaving the museum encouraged to reflect on what the Treaty means today. Entry to the permanent exhibition is via an impressive foyer and begins with a traditional Māori karanga (call of welcome).
View different locations within the Bay of Islands on a digital projection table to discover a story relating to it. This interactive table also shares stories of Māori interacting with the world in the early days of European settlement.
Step into an immersive tent environment that evokes the structure which housed discussions, debate and ultimately the signing of the Treaty documents in 1840. Watch a re-enactment of the debate and signing – key figures from all sides are given a voice within the tent.
In the beautiful Documents Room you can discover the documents upon which the relationship between Māori and the British is formalised. Perfect facsimiles of the Treaty of Waitangi and Te Tiriti o Waitangi, as well as the copies sent around the country in 1840, are shown within this space and the critical differences between the two versions, English and Māori, clearly explained.
A life-sized portrait of Queen Victoria, brought to Waitangi by Queen Elizabeth II in 1970, hangs in the Documents Room, as well as important paintings depicting scenes from 6th February 1840 when the Treaty was first signed at Waitangi.
After the signing
The decades of unrest and warfare which followed the signing of the Treaty in 1840 are well documented throughout the final sections of Ko Waitangi Tēnei, the museum’s permanent exhibition. The purchase of the Treaty Grounds by Lord and Lady Bledisloe in 1932 was honoured by gifts from iwi (tribes) from around Aotearoa, including taiaha, a carved frame, and a spectacular carved chair – all of which are on display.
See taonga (treasured objects) from the famous 1975 Land March to Parliament, while a ‘waka table’ digitally presents historical and contemporary images of the four major features of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds – the Treaty House, the flagstaff, Ngātokimatawhaorua and Te Whare Rūnanga.
Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi presents the events leading up to, during, and after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi in a balanced and authentic way, explaining the motivations and views of all sides equally. Writer and historian Michael Keith explains that Te Kōngahu shares how Waitangi continues not only as a significant historic site but also as a stage for a living and evolving history.
Visitors leave the museum with a chance to reflect on what the Treaty means today – prompted by quotes and images expressing the views of New Zealanders from all walks of life.