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New Zealand’s newest national exhibition a hit

Media release
30 May 2017

New Zealand’s newest national exhibition a hit

Around 4000 people attended the first open day of new He Tohu exhibition at the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa on 20 May.

This was the start of a highly successful first week for He Tohu, with more than 150 school children visiting and more than 20 school groups already booked in for Term Two.

The permanent exhibition features three of New Zealand’s iconic constitution documents:
· 1835 He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni – Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand
· 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi – Treaty of Waitangi
· 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition – Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine

These original documents are housed in a stunning, state-of-the-art conservation space, inspired by a traditional Māori waka huia or treasure box.

This document room is surrounded by an exciting interactive area, allowing visitors to engage with the documents as never before, thanks to extensive research into the life-stories of the documents’ signatories.

‘’It was great to see so many visitors interacting with the documents and engaging with the exhibition, bringing to life the He Tohu vision of he whakapapa kōrero, he whenua kura; talking about our past to create a better future,’’ said Peter Murray, Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of Internal Affairs.

He Tohu has been developed in partnership between Crown and Māori, with significant input from women’s groups. The exhibition preserves our fragile and precious documentary heritage for future generations; enhancing learning opportunities for young New Zealanders and improving access to these taonga for all New Zealanders and visitors to our country.

“Our goal is to ensure every New Zealand school pupil gets to visit this important national exhibition at least once,’’ Mr Murray says.

‘’The Te Puna Foundation, the fundraising arm of the National Library, aims to build a travel fund to help bring school children from all around New Zealand to Wellington to participate in the He Tohu education programme. The Government has committed to matching donations dollar for dollar for the next two years.’’

The exhibition features both on-site and on-line learning experiences and resources, focussing on the history of the documents and their on-going significance. A comprehensive curriculum-aligned schools programme has been developed by the National Library to support young people to connect and engage with the three documents.

He Tohu is open six days a week and entry is free.

He Tohu is presented by Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga and the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, both of which are part of the Department of Internal Affairs. The documents remain under the guardianship and care of the Chief Archivist and Archives New Zealand.

For more information about He Tohu, to book a school or group visit or to donate to the Te Puna Foundation, please visit


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