Te Whanganui a Tara is the name of one of our most prized taonga at Wellington Museum, the tukutuku and poupou panel created for us by Rangi Hetet, the late Erenora Puketapu-Hetet and their whanau. It is currently sitting quietly, almost alone on level two of the museum while we prepare new exhibits to be installed, but not for long. Soon a noisy family of other taonga will surround Te Whanganui a Tara, keeping our poupou and tukutuku warm with different voices, creating a conversation of sight and sound and diverse perspectives, just like a whānau. Te Whanganui a Tara tells some of the Māori origin stories of Wellington. The new taonga continue those stories and bring voices from contemporary young Māori artists and poets into the Museum.

To have the full experience, you will need to visit level two when it re-opens as Ngā Heke during our Steampunk Weekend on 26th November 2016. In the meantime, below we profile the wonderful artists who have created new work for Wellington Museum.

Hinemoana Baker

Tēnei au e mihi atu nei, tēnā koutou katoa. He uri ahau nō Ngāi Tahu ki te moutere ātaahua rā, ki Te Wai Pounamu. Nō Ngāti Raukawa hoki, nō Ngāti Toa Rangatira, Te Āti Awa i te taha o taku pāpā. He Pākehā hoki ōku mātua – nō Ingarangi ērā tūpuna ā, i tētahi taha o te whānau o taku whāea, nō Tiamani (Oberammergau, Bavaria). I whakatipu ahau i Whakatane me Whakatū, ā, kua noho mo te wā roa ki Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara me Kāpiti.hinemoana

Nō reira tēnā koutou, tēna koutou, tēna tātou katoa.

Greetings! I descend from the Ngāi Tahu tribe in the beautiful South Island, and from Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Toa and Te Āti Awa in the North Island. My Māori heritage is from my father’s side. Both of my parents also have non-Māori heritage, from England and in the case of my mother’s family, Bavaria (a little place called Oberammergau). 

I was raised in Whakatane and Nelson, and have lived for over 20 years in Wellington and Kāpiti. 

Hinemoana Baker is a published poet, a musician and recording artist, teacher of creative writing and occasional broadcaster. She is currently Creative New Zealand’s Berlin Writer in Residence 2016.

Hinemoana’s first book of poetry, ‘mātuhi | needle‘, was co-published in New Zealand and the US in 2004. Her first album, ‘puāwai‘ (Jayrem Records, 2004) was a finalist for the NZ Music Awards and the APRA Silver Scrolls Māori Language award. Her second collection of poetry is’kōiwi kōiwi | bone bone‘ (Victoria University Press, 2010). She co-edited the anthology ‘Kaupapa: New Zealand Poets, World Issues’ in 2007, and has released four more CDs of music and poetry. Her most recent collection is ‘waha | mouth‘ (Victoria University Press, 2014).

Hinemoana was Arts Queensland Poet in Residence in 2009 and writer in residence with the International Writing Programme at the University of Iowa in 2010. She spent 2014 as writer in residence at the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University. She has appeared at festivals and events in New Zealand and in Australia, Indonesia, Europe and the US.


Hinemoana has made a special arrangement of the song ‘Ka Aro Au (Cuba St Song)‘, which she wrote with Julian Raphael for the Cuba Street Carnival 2014. 

Sophie Jolley


Rangimarie Sophie Jolley is a writer of Waikato-Tainui decent, hailing from Porirua. She is a published author, active poet and founding member of the Toi Wāhine Collective, who aim to promote and exhibit the work of indigenous Māori Female Artists across a diverse range of art forms, both locally and around the world. Sophie’s dedication to her art is a clear indication of her passion. She has relished the opportunity to host facilitative storytelling sessions and undertake poetry readings, engaging a wider audience in the arts. As a mother, her passions lie in helping children find their affinity with the world of imagination through both the written word and the telling of stories. As an artist, her passion lies with stirring the emotions of all that enjoy her work.

Sophie created and performed a new poem for us called ‘Tangata Whenua’

In the rattle of these knowing bones

the shiver of shedding skin sings

Land alive

Tangata whenua  

 Sandy Rodgers

Artist Sandy Rodgers (Ngati Raukawa, Tuwharetoa, Scottish and English) has painted throughout her life.  Sandy’s credentials include an honors Diploma in Creative Arts, two years spent learning traditional Maori arts under artist Erenora Puketapu-Hetet and her family in Waiwhetu, and over 15 years exhibiting in New Zealand and abroad.

sandyWhile based in London, Sandy coordinated and advised on various projects including ‘Kiwi Art Spark’ an initiative based in London which aimed to promote, support and exhibit New Zealand artists, and the ‘Aotearoa’ exhibition in Basauri, Spain, which profiled a mix of renowned traditional artists alongside a range of emerging artists.  Sandy was also manager of the Rebecca Hossack Gallery, a gallery that supported the arts of indigenous peoples from around the world.

Since arriving back in New Zealand Sandy has been on a rigorous exhibition schedule combined with teaching ‘The Business of Art’ workshops and co-coordinating artist forums in the Hutt Valley.

Sandy tours and researches New Zealand and her delvings into history are captured in her works. Each work comprises a combination of elements from collaged images of her previous works to thick layers of smoky shellac. The works are covered in a layer of archival tissue which is then worked over with delicate designs and images in watercolours, inks and graphite. She takes her inspiration from the many museums and historical sites she has visited.

Sandy created a large artwork called ‘Early Days in Maoriland’ for the museum, showing the migratory trails of the Heberley whānau, a Māori Pākeha family with origins in Taranaki and England/Germany. The artwork reveals the kinds of migrations undertaken by many families of Wellington in the 19th century, still relevant to many mana whenua or Māori Wellingtonians today. The Heberley whānau is also represented in the Museum by a collection of Jacob Heberley’s carving, which will feature alongside (and within) the new artwork.

An earlier work by Sandy, ‘Adventure in Maoriland’, 2006

Te Kahu Rolleston

He uri tenei mai i nga tai e papaki tu ana ki mauao, no te ia moana o te awanui, te ia-auraki o Tauranga ka rere i te ao ka rere i te po. Ko Ngaiterangi te iwi, ko nga moutere whakaruruhau o Matakana nga turangawaewae oku. Koira te putake o toku tangaengae. Tauranga Moana Tauranga Tangata.

I descend from the tides that crash and break against my ancestral mountain named Mauao. I am of the great running currents of my seafaring people, The Vein of our lives, Te Awanui, the current that flows day and night. The islands of Matakana are where i plant my feet and call home. That is my very foundation from where I will always draw life. Tauranga’s sea, and Tauranga’s people are one.

te-kahu-rollestonI have a double major from Waikato University and other accolades but those aren’t particularly the kind of qualifications I’m interested in discussing. In this context my most relevant qualifications would be the knowledge that has been instilled within me over my years. I have always had an infactuation with oral traditions and their ability to preserve knowledge for generations without ever being written. I attribute this in part, amongst other things, to the captivating and powerful imagery that’s used, which allows the story and the information within it to be retained and recited when required. I explore this space using both very traditional concepts like karakia, whaikōrero, moteatea, and very contemporary forms of writing- rap/ music from any genre, written poetry, spoken word poetry. The reason I use contemporary and traditional forms is to ensure it appeals to Māori who were raised with a Māori view and also those who weren’t. Regardless of their upbringing, by putting the cultural stories and knowledge into a form of oral tradition a person can relate to, they are more likely to retain it and have enjoyable memories associated with it. Mauri ora! (quote with thanks Resilient Places Resilient Voices Elders Summit)

Te Kahu recently returned from the Festpac World Pacific Festival of Arts in Guam where he won the inter-island poetry slam. He also won the 2013 NZ national poetry slam. He has written and performed a new poem for us called ‘Te Upoko o te Ika’.

Ngā Mihi Nunui ki Ngā Kaimahi o ēnei Taonga!

We are so lucky to have these brand new taonga in our Museum – come and experience them speaking and singing to each other and to our other taonga from 26 November onwards. Mauri ora!