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RNZAF Gifts Tongan Tapa Cloth, Fine Mats to Te Pap

New Zealand Defence Force
Te Ope Kaatua O Aotearoa

Media Release

26 February 2008

RNZAF Gifts Tongan Tapa Cloth and Fine Mats to Te Papa

A tapa cloth and two fine mats that were placed underneath the late King of Tonga’s, King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV, casket during his return home on a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 Hercules in 2006 will be donated by the RNZAF at a ceremony tomorrow at Te Papa.

“The returning home of King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV was a sombre occasion for the RNZAF, but we are pleased to be able to donate to the museum the ngatu launima which was part of such an historic occasion,” said Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Graham Lintott.

The mats and tapa – which measures nearly 27 metres in length – was gifted to the crew of the aircraft by the late King’s wife, Queen Halaevalu Mata’aho and will now be part of the Pacific Collection at the museum.

Te Papa’s Director of History & Pacific Cultures, Dr Claudia Orange, welcomed the RNZAF’s decision to gift the items to the national museum.

“These objects have special and significant stories to tell about the relationship between Tonga and New Zealand and the museum is pleased to accept the gift”, Dr Orange said.

The gifting ceremony will take place on Te Papa’s Marae at 4pm on Wednesday 27 February and will be attended by RNZAF staff and members of the Tongan community. The Ako Fake-Kalistiane choir group and Makatu’unga ‘i he ‘Ofa dance group also will perform.

Media are welcome to attend.


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