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Prime Minister Ardern Makes First Visit To Wharekauri / Chatham Islands To Open Island’s New Office Facility and Museum

WAITANGI, 25 November 2022: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern today made an historic visit to Wharekauri/Chatham Islands to officially open the Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri Civic Building and Chatham Islands Museum and observe to the return of a precious taonga to Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri.

Traveling on board the Hercules is Miria Pōmare, bringing her tūpuna patu parāoa (whalebone club) to Wharekauri, which is destined to take pride of place in the new museum along with an entourage of dignitaries and media.

Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri Iwi Trust CEO Gail Amaru says the return of the patu is a significant event in the history of Ngāti Mutunga.

“The patu parāoa was carried by Pōmare Ngātata in 1835 who led the Māori now known as Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri from Wellington harbour to Wharekauri,” says Amaru.

“He secured safe passage on that ship to Wharekauri for hundreds of our tūpuna in two separate voyages. This precious taonga has been passed down through generations of the Pomare whānau and we’re incredibly honoured to welcome Miria Pomare, the current kaitiaki of the patu, here today.

“We’re thrilled to have the Prime Minister here to witness the return of the patu and to open the museum that will house it,” she says.

Commissioned by Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri Iwi Trust, the Chatham Islands Museum and Cultural Heritage Charitable Trust, and the Chatham Islands Council, the Office Facility and Museum has been constructed on land owned by Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri Iwi Trust. The office part of the development was funded entirely by Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri and funding for the museum was provided separately by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

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Ngāti Mutunga o Wharekauri Asset Holding Company Chair, Joseph Thomas, says the Office Facility represents an excellent, sustainable investment for the pre-settlement iwi. The asset is leased back to the Chatham Islands Council for a 30-year term.

“Developing and owning an infrastructure type property such as this, tenanted by local government with a large component of central government-backed funding, is a high-quality investment for our iwi,” he says.

“We are particularly proud to be hosting Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at this significant event acknowledging the valuable role that this facility will play in our community,” says Thomas.

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