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Poukai tradition on display at Waikato Museum

1 March 2024

Ko Kiingi Tūheitia me Toona Ahurewatapu, Paimarire.
E nga mana e nga reo, na Te Whare Taonga O Waikato te karanga ake ka tuu tenei whakaaturanga, Te Pani, Te Pouaru, Te Rawakore. Hei te 1 Maehe ka tuwhera te kuwaha mo te  marea. Ko nga whakaahua e kite nei koe o nga Poukai e Iwa I nga tau e rua 2006-2008. Nau mai, haere mai raa.

Candid smiles, local leaders, and poignant moments feature in a new exhibition of photography at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga O Waikato.

Open from Friday 1 March 2024, Te Pani, Te Pouaru, Te Rawakore: Nurturing Generations through Poukai showcases the ongoing tradition of Poukai (marae gatherings) through colour photographs taken between 2006 and 2008.

“For nearly 150 years, the annual cycle of Poukai events has provided an avenue of direct communication for the Tainui people with their royal leader. This tradition is an important element of Te Kiingitanga, the Maaori King movement, and we’re proud to be displaying these unique images which are held in the Waikato Museum collection,” said Liz Cotton, Director of Museum and Arts.

“This beautiful series of photographs captures a particular moment in time, and we are conscious that some of the people portrayed may now have passed on. Poukai has always been a time of remembrance and connection so we hope this exhibition will also act as acknowledgement of those who are no longer with us.”

Poukai was introduced in 1885 by Taawhiao, son of the first Maaori King Potatau Te Wherowhero, in the wake of ongoing conflicts between the military and Maaori. In the decades since, Poukai has spread to 30 marae across the Waikato region and continues today through the attendance of Kiingi Tūheitia.

The kaupapa (purpose) of these marae gatherings also served as the inspiration for the exhibition title, quoting Kiingi Taawhiao in 1885:

"Ka whakaturia e hau tenei taonga hei aawhina i te Pani, te Pouaru, me te Rawakore. He kuwaha whaanui kua puare i te puna tangata me te puna kai."
(I will institute this day to provide support for the Widowed, the Bereaved, and the Homeless. With a bounty of food, my door is opened to the multitude of peoples.)

The images on display in Te Pani, Te Pouaru, Te Rawakore: Nurturing Generations through Poukai  were taken by photographer Beau Morgan, at the time a staff member at Waikato Museum. Thanks to the support of the Waikato Raupatu Lands Trust, Morgan travelled to Poukai at many marae including Hora Hora Marae, Rangiriri; Kokohinau Marae, Te Teko; Reretewhioi Marae, Waiuku; Waikare Marae, Te Kauwhata; Tauranganui Marae, Port Waikato; Waahi Paa, Huntly; Mangatangi Marae, Mangatangi; Ngatira Marae, Putaruru; and Te Awamarahi Marae, Port Waikato.

The exhibition also features a short-form video ‘Te Punakai-Visual tales along the Poukai trail’ by Joshua and Noema Watene which will be playing on loop.

Te Pani, Te Pouaru, Te Rawakore: Nurturing Generations through Poukai is open daily from 10am to 5pm at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato until 21 July 2024. Entry is free.

Please note 

For te reo Maaori, Waikato Museum uses double vowels (uu) in place of vowels with a macron (ū) to represent a long vowel sound. This spelling approach is the preference of tangata whenua in Hamilton Kirikiriroa and Waikato iwi for te reo Maaori words. Artists’ titles are shown in their original form.