Hihiwera Homecoming - to repatriate or not to repatriate?

The Director/author was fortunate to be able to travel to Hawai'i recently (18th January 2022), to research and examine a number of 'ahu 'ula and a mahiole (feather cloaks and a helmet), cared for by the wonderful staff at the Bernice Puahi Bishop Museum, in Honolulu, Oahu.


A taonga of note, was the 'ahu 'ula which Ali'i (Chief) Kalani'o'pu'u gifted Captain Cook on his final voyage, which was repatriated to Hawai'i during the past decade; after having spent a century in the UK, followed by another century in Aotearoa New Zealand. After having viewed this in its homeland, and hearing of the importance of it being returned to Hawai'i, by both Marques and other Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiians); Kerehona realises the cultural significance of having Hongi Hika's kakahu 'Hihiwera' repatriated from The British Museum in the UK, to its cultural homeland in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Director/author will continue discussions with Marques, and hopefully staff from Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington; so that he has a greater understanding of the repatriation process and what steps are entailed within that particular kaupapa.


Our gratitude goes out to Marques Hanalei Marzan and Jacob Shearer for their time, and sharing of space and cultural knowledge, surrounding these traditional treasures. Kerehona and his wife gifted Jacob a copy of his published journal article (Hongi Hika: A Portrait), and Marques received a specialised bone manaia (which represented a kaitiaki and being able to view things from both a cultural as well as a western perspective).


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