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Richard Seddon’s Kiwi Feather Cloaks

07 June 2006

Prime Minister Richard Seddon’s Kiwi Feather Cloaks To Be Presented To Te Papa By His Grand Children

The family of former Prime Minister, Rt Hon Richard John Seddon (1845-1906, Prime Minister 1893-1906) is coming together to commemorate the 100th anniversary of his death, in Wellington.

As part of this commemoration, representatives of his family will present two historic kiwi-feather cloaks, or kahu kiwi, to Te Papa. The full length kiwi-feather cloak was laid on his bier as he lay in state in Parliament Buildings in 1906, and the smaller cloak adorned with bands of kiwi feathers and hukahuka cords was placed over the coffin of his wife Mrs Louisa Jane Seddon at her funeral in 1931.

The cloaks will be presented by 92-year-old Miss Jean Gilmer of Eastbourne, a granddaughter of the late Richard Seddon and a great grandson, Mr Tim Jerram of Auckland.

The Seddon family has remained the kaitiaki, or guardians, of the cloaks for the last 100 years, and it is now their wish that these taonga, or treasures, be returned to the nation and cared for in Te Papa’s collections.

The provenance of the cloaks is currently unknown, but Te Papa curators will research their origins and history.

A brief welcome for the Seddon family will be held on Friday 9 June, 2pm at Te Papa’s Marae (Level 4). The cloaks will be received into Te Papa’s care by Dr Seddon Bennington (Chief Executive), Te Taru White (Kaihautü), Dr Claudia Orange (Director of History and Pacific), and Arapata Hakiwai (Director of Mätauranga Mäori).

Richard Seddon was born in Lancashire, England in 1845. After emigrating to Australia in 1863 he arrived in New Zealand in 1866. Following a number of positions in public office, he became Premier of New Zealand from 1893 until 1906. His stature, robust personality and populist approach to politics earned him the nickname ‘King Dick’.

Currently on display at Te Papa is Prime Minister Seddon’s Privy Counsellor’s Civil Uniform in the Eyelights Gallery, Level 4. He was appointed a member of the Privy Council while in London attending Queens Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The uniform was gifted to the National Museum by Dame Elizabeth Knox Gilmer in 1955.

Media are invited to attend the welcome on Friday 9 June, 2pm at Te Papa’s Marae on
Level 4. Please arrive by 1.45pm.


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