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Salvation Army welcomes home taonga

The Salvation Army
Media Release

Salvation Army welcomes home taonga

Wellington, 20 February 2008 - The Salvation Army has welcomed home significant taonga (cultural treasures) from the late 1800s which have been overseas for about 100 years.

During a national hui at Akatarawa, north of Wellington, senior Salvation Army leaders and members of Salvation Army Maori Ministries welcomed back a piupiu (flax skirt), and korowai (cloak) which had belonged to early Salvation Army Maori missionary Ernest Holdaway. The taonga, along with a poi belonging to Mrs Holdaway, were gifted back to the Territory by their descendents in Australia.

The piupiu is a unique design thought to have indicated Holdaway's bishop status among Maori. An extra piece attached to the piupiu has a diamond design representative of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This additional attachment is not known to have been done in other piupiu. Where a bishop would have worn a mitre as their headdress, Holdaway wore his Salvation Army cap with the words Te Ope Whakaora, the Maori name for The Salvation Army, literally 'the Army that brings life'.

Almost 100 people attended the hui, held from 15-17 February, which also saw the launch of a new collection of documents on The Salvation Army and Maori from 1884 to 2007. Te Ope Whakaora: The Army that Brings Life is a 440-page book examining the foundations of The Salvation Army's work among Maori. This work began largely through the energies and skills of Ernest Holdaway in the Whanganui River area from 1888-1902. It also details Salvation Army Maori work in the Horowhenua, the Bay of Plenty and on the East Coast.

Also at the hui, Salvation Army national Maori Ministries leaders, Joe and Nan Patea, were confirmed as auxiliary captains which represents a change from lay ministry to full-time Salvation Army ministers.

Te Ope Whakaora: The Army that Brings Life (Flag Publications) is available for $30 (plus p&p) from The Salvation Army Bookshop and Supplies in Wellington. Phone: (04) 382 0740 or email


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