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Experience the untold story of the Voyage to Aotearoa


Wednesday 14 August 2019


Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum is marking 250 years since the first onshore meetings between Māori and Europeans during HMB Endeavour's 1769 voyage to Aotearoa New Zealand, with a new special exhibition opening on Friday 13 September.

Enter the world of Tupaia, Tahitian high priest, navigator, and artist. Go back in time to 1769 and journey with him on Captain Cook’s Endeavour from Tahiti to Aotearoa. Learn about the critical role Tupaia played in our history as he acted as translator and mediator for both Europeans and tangata whenua on this voyage.

Jump on board this Pacific adventure where you can sail a va’a around the Society Islands, experience life as a sailor, and the charting of the coastline of Aotearoa.

Part of the national Tuia 250 commemorations, Voyage to Aotearoa: Tupaia and the Endeavour will introduce visitors to the different stories of these first onshore meetings. This interactive family exhibition tells the story of Captain James Cook’s first voyage to Aotearoa, with a focus on the Tahitian Endeavour voyager, Tupaia.

Drawing on Tupaia’s story, as a navigator and translator, visitors will feel a sense of adventure in this narrative-led exhibition. Told through three different settings: Tahiti, onboard the Endeavour and Aotearoa, this exhibition has hands-on, tactile experiences for young people, combined with bold visuals and storytelling.

In Tahiti, visitors will be introduced to Tupaia the Arioi (high priest), experience what everyday life was like in Tahiti in 1768 and learn about the Endeavour’s time there with Tupaia.

Interactives bring Tupaia’s paintings to life with movement and song; allow visitors to navigate their va’a in the Society Islands; and watch the Endeavour’s route unfold around Aotearoa.

Moving through the exhibition, visitors can experience the mess hall of the Endeavour, see how sailors ate and slept on the ship and even jump in a hammock and try on clothes of the time. A series of dioramas give a glimpse into life on the ship, and Joseph Bank’s (British naturalist, botanist and scientific leader of expedition) quarters shows theEndeavour as a research vessel, with a selection of original plant specimens collected in Aotearoa in 1769-70 on display.

Finally, arriving in Aotearoa, we engage with the first onshore meetings between Māori and British, Tupaia’s relationships with Māori, and his role as cultural broker.

Auckland Museum Head of Exhibitions, Victoria Travers, says Voyage to Aotearoa offers different ways to look at our past.

“Tupaia’s story is not as widely known as it should be, and we are hoping to shine a light on an under-represented story from this moment in history. As part of Tuia 250 we are pleased to be part of a wider conversation to encourage New Zealanders to take another look at their past and consider different perspectives.”

A series of four short films in the exhibition draw on historical accounts and oral histories and feature stories, impressions and experiences of tamariki, who were part of the first onshore meetings between Māori and British during the Endeavour’s voyage.

From objects such as taame, va’a and ahufara; to illustrative plates and black and white etchings from Banks’ Florilegium publication; to bird mounts, fish and bird skins, and shells, the objects explore key moments in the story and reflect the world of Tahiti and Aotearoa in 1769.

The exhibition Voyage to Aotearoa: Tupaia and the Endeavour features objects and specimens from across Auckland Museum, including 44 objects from the Māori, Pacific, Documentary Heritage and History collections, as well as from the Botany collection with original pressings from Banks’ florilegium specimens.

Immersive, interactive and visually rich, Voyage to Aotearoa: Tupaia and the Endeavour contains specially-created soundscapes that have drawn inspiration from chants; sounds of the Endeavour at sea and original recordings of traditional Tahitian instruments. This exhibit will feature a combination of English, Māori and Tahitian in both text and audio-visual interpretation.

Voyage to Aotearoa: Tupaia and the Endeavour opens Friday 13 September 2019 and runs until Sunday 15th March 2020 part of the nationwide Tuia 250 commemoration and supported by funding from the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board Te Puna Tahua.

Accompanying the exhibition is the illustrated graphic novel The Adventures of Tupaia written by Courtney Sina Meredith and illustrated by Mat Tait.

(ends)

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