Māori treasures / Taonga
When the Māori populated New Zealand or Aotearoa about 800 years ago, they brought with them a rich culture. Museum of Ethnology has a rich collection of objects made by Māori. During Māori weekend, there are special mini tours to our Oceania room, where our guide can tell you all about these extraordinary objects. The Māori see these objects as treasures or taonga and inherit them from their ancestors. The more important the ancestor to whom the taonga once belonged, the greater the mana, the power of the object.
Some treasures depict an ancestor; others show the connection to the ancestor, through the stories of a historical event, a special place or a person who used the objects. Still today, when Māori come in contact with certain powerful taonga, they react to them as if they were alive: full of awe, they experience the ancestral spirit as a presence, an authority. Objects not only connect the past to the present, but are also guides that help understand complex family histories. Taonga allow Māori to draw from ancestral knowledge to face the future with confidence.