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Aratoi Plans to bring a Wairarapa Chief back home

From Oxford to Aratoi Plans to bring a Wairarapa Chief back home gain momentum

A Lindauer portrait of the Wairarapa Chief Ngairo Rakaihikuroa could be coming home in time for this year’s historical celebrations.

The portrait is currently in the collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum, in Oxford, UK. Permission has been granted for the work to be borrowed for Aratoi’s upcoming exhibition Kahungunu ka moe…ka puta…, which opens on May 1st. The exhibition will bring together Samuel Carnell’s photographic portraits of Kahungunu ancestors of the Wairarapa together with Lindauer portraits and Kahungunu taonga.

Aratoi Director Tracy Puklowski says that the challenge now facing her staff and the team behind the Kahungunu exhibition, Te Tira Whakahaere, is to locate funding for the expenses associated with the loan of the portrait. Like many major museums, the Pitt Rivers Museum has strict rules regarding international loans; for example, the travelling work must be accompanied by a Pitt Rivers Museum staff member.

Mrs Puklowski says, “this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the people of the Wairarapa, and we’re determined to look at every possibility to bring the work home”. She adds that, to her knowledge, this will be the first time that the portrait has been exhibited in New Zealand since going into the Pitt Rivers collection.

Ngairo Rakaihikuroa, of Ngati Kahungunu descent, was born around 1800. He was a prominent chief of Ngai Tahu hapu from the Gladstone area, and was a leader of the Wairarapa Hauhau movement in the 1860s.

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