Borrowing and Lending – Latest News

Borrowing and Lending – Latest News

Ruatepupuke II at the Field Museum Chicago

photo © Field Museum Chicago

In November 1992 Arapata Hakiwai was in the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago helping to re-install the Nāgti Porou whare whakairo Ruatepupuke II. Ruatepupuke II is an early example of East Coast carving that is unusual for its fully carved front façade and its shallow relief.

Most (but not all) of Ruatepupuke II has been at the Field Museum since they purchased it from the foremost German dealer of natural history specimens and ethnographic objects, J.F.G Umlauff of Hamburg, in 1905. Arapata helped to locate the missing carvings at the Peabody Museum at Salem, Massachusetts, Auckland Museum and Te Papa.

Te Papa has lent five carvings to the FieldMuseumso that Ruatepupuke II is presented to the world in its fabulous entirety. This loan is coming up for renewal now and we are in the process of extending it for another 5 years.

Some of Ruatepupuke’s history:

Ruatepupuke II was built in Tokomaru Bay in 1880 and opened there on 23 September 1881. Ruatepupuke II replaced Ruatepupuke who was dismantled and hidden in 1828 to protect it from warring tribes. The carvings of Ruatepupuke were soaked in whale oil and hidden in the bed of the Mangahauini River. The riverbed moved and the carvings were subsequently lost. Both Ruatepupuke were built to honour and remember Ruatepupuke who brought the art of woodcarving from the domain of Tangaroa (god of the sea) to this world.

By the late 1880s or early 1890s Ruatepupuke II was sadly in disrepair and was sold to a dealer of ‘Māori curios’, Mr Hindmarsh. In the intervening period an Englishman reputedly owned Ruatepupuke II and it was he who sold it to Umlauff around 1902.

The Chicago museum bought Ruatepupuke II for 20,000 German marks (around US$5,000) in 1905. Ruatepupuke II was erected in the Field Museum in 1925 with parts that were not from the original whare. At that time the Field Museum wrote to James McDonald, Acting Director of the Dominion Museum (Te Papa) who referred them to Apirana Ngata, then MP for Eastern Maori District. Ngata contacted the people of Tokomaru Bay who wove 24 whariki that were subsequently shipped to Chicago.

In 1961 the doorway and window were glassed in so that the whare could be used as a large exhibition case to display the whariki and cloaks in a didactic display.

In 1974 the Field Museum invited Sidney Moko Mead to discuss alternative interpretations and this was the beginning of the pathway to the current reinstallation.

In 1986 Field Museum staff met face-to-face with people of  Tokomaru Bay as a result of the exhibition Te Maori being displayed there.  John Terrell then led a delegation of 18 Field Museum staff to Tokomaru Bay to continue the dialogue and the result was that Ruatepupuke II could stay in Chicago and be restored as a living meeting house and marae.

A project team was established to undertake the restoration work and this was led by John Terrell, Carolyn Blackmon, Arapata Hakiwai, Cliff  Whiting and  Te Waka Toi of Creative New Zealand. John Terrell and Arapata were acted as the co-curators who undertook the research work and wrote the booklet on the history of Ruatepupuke. Two interns were also employed to carry out the conservation work – Hinemoa Hilliard and Hone Ngata. Arapata carried out valuable research that led to the discovery of old photographic images, written accounts of the opening, whakapapa and manuscripts that related to Ruatepupuke II. Tokomaru Bay people were actively involved in the dismantling of the whare that began in April 1992. New tukutuku panels were made at Tokomaru Bay and shipped over.  Missing carvings were located and Ruatepupuke II was formally opened to the public on 9 March 1993.

In 2007 a large contingent of Tokomaru Bay people including the kapa haka group Te Hokowhitu-a-Tu travelled to Chicago to celebrate the 126th celebration of Ruatepupuke. Maori television also travelled with them to make a documentary on its history.

Fom the first visit through to today there has been a great relationship established between the Field Museum, the Chicago Indian Centre, and the Te Whanau-a-Ruataupare tribe of Tokomaru Bay. The First Nation peoples in Chicago actively use Ruatepupuke for many of their important occasions with the support and approval from the Maori community in Chicago.

If you get the chance to go to Chicago pay Ruatepupuke II a visit.


Arapata Hakiwai and John Terrell  Ruatepupuke: A Maori Meeting House (The Field Museum: Chicago, Ill 1994)

Dynasty: Works by Octavia Cook at the Dowse Art Museum

This exhibition tells the story of Auckland jeweller Octavia Cook’s fictitious jewellery company Cook & Co, a play on Tiffany & Co. The exhibition also reveals Cook’s new direction following the company’s staged demise. Documenting the company’s rise to fame, its alter ego, cheap take off, dramatic collapse and subsequent rebirth, Dynasty reflects all the dramas that family companies entail.

This exhibition includes 7 pieces of jewellery and 2 photographs from our collection.

If you are in Lower Hutt between 28 July 2012 and 21 October 2012 it’s definitely worth checking out the exhibition.

1 Comment

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