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 award-winning museum features the permanent exhibition Ko Waitangi Tēnei: This is Waitangi on the ground floor and a gallery for temporary exhibitions on the first floor. Entry to both exhibition galleries is via the foyer.
Ko Waitangi Tēnei tells the story of Te Tiriti o Waitangi | Treaty of Waitangi from multiple perspectives to achieve an authentic and accurate representation of events. The temporary exhibition gallery hosts a changing programme of exhibitions.
Ko Waitangi Tēnei features over 500 images, six immersive audio-visual experience, and two large interactive touchscreens, taking visitors on a chronological journey through historical moments as they happened – leaving the museum encouraged to reflect on what the Treaty means today.
A traditional karanga (call of welcome) forms the first experience as you walk into Ko Waitangi Tēnei. Discover early interactions between Māori and Pākehā. View stories of the Bay of Islands on a digital projection table and learn about how Māori interacted with the world. Learn about the relationship building through trade, marriage, children and the introduction of Christianity to New Zealand.
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 Documents Room you can discover the documents upon which the relationship between Māori and the British is formalised. Perfect facsimiles of the copies of the Treaty of Waitangi and Te Tiriti o Waitangi sent around the country in 1840 are shown within this space, and the critical differences between the two versions, English and Māori, clearly explained.
Two artworks depicting scenes from the debate and signing of the Treaty offer insight into how history is often presented from one perspective. A large portrait of Queen Victoria and korowai of Reihana Taukawau complement the artworks, reminding the visitor that the Treaty of Waitangi was an agreement between two peoples.
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 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.
Ko Waitangi Tēnei 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 the exhibition 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.
The temporary exhibition gallery hosts a variety of exhibitions throughout the year. Exhibitions vary in media including photographs, paintings, textiles, and appeal to a wide audience. Some temporary exhibitions can complement and expand on subjects in Ko Waitangi Tēnei or Te Utu o Te Kiriraraunga in Te Rau Aroha Museum of the Price of Citizenship.