Te Rau Aroha.
The theme of the museum’s main exhibition is the Price of Citizenship, Te Utu o Te Kiriraraunga. The contemporary, immersive and interactive museum is divided into three galleries and incorporates state of the art technology to help bring its stories to life.
The first gallery tells the story of the Māori commitment to the armed forces. It includes exhibitions on the New Zealand Wars and the Boer War, with a strong focus on the Pioneer Battalion of World War I and the 28 (Māori) Battalion of World War II. The second gallery is dedicated to the 28 (Māori) Battalion’s A Company, most of whom hailed from Northland. It tells the personal stories of the soldiers and their families. The third gallery acts as a contemplative Whare Maumahara (house of memories) for visitors, descendants and whānau.
A strong focus of the museum is on A Company of the 28 (Māori) Battalion, whose members hailed from Te Tai Tokerau (Northland). Four large touchscreen tables allow visitors to research A Company members in a space dedicated to the company. Whānau can also submit images, stories, and other information to contribute to the ongoing development of the Te Rau Aroha database.
The gallery features a large changeable display case for the personal effects and taonga of A Company soldiers, kindly loaned by whānau.
The third gallery – He Whakamaumaharatanga – is a memorial to Māori service personnel from both World Wars – while also inviting people to remember those who have been affected by all conflicts.
An impressive large-scale wooden artform (Garland of Love) made up of thousands of pieces of beech from the South Island and swamp kauri from the Far North fills the centre of the room.
This artwork represents Māori who have fought since the formation of Aotearoa New Zealand in 1840. The sacrifice and lives lost during the Boer War and Te Pūtake o Te Riri (New Zealand Wars) are acknowledged within the gallery. The nominal rolls of the Pioneer Battalion from WWI and the 28 (Māori) Battalion from WWII are presented alongside images of the men of A Company.
See images by renowned-photographer Jane Ussher of 22 veterans who attended an All Blacks vs France test match in 2007.
A seated area facing the Jane Ussher portraits and descendants’ stories provides a fitting way to reflect on their experience of Te Rau Aroha.