Maori Korowai Coming Back Home

There’ll be people looking to hire a marquee in Melbourne, as the Maori population in Australia will be welcoming a precious cultural artefact back home.

The artefact in question is a 128-year-old korowai, which is said to have belonged to the eldest son of a Ngāti Pāoa rangatira, a noble from the west of Hauraki Gulf, which is set to be repatriated from the AU to the Auckland War Memorial Musuem.

In October of 2018, Miriata Witika-Takerei and, her sister, Violet Pahuru, found the korowai of their great-grandfather Waata Tipa, within the possessions found within the Victoria Museums in Melbourne. The sisters were looking for new designs for korowai, when they ran into the cloak.

Witika-Takerei says that they were just looking for korowai as their extended family was looking to make more cloaks, and her sister just ran across it, then brought it to them. She notes that they were initially uncertain that it was their ancestor’s, as the museum recorded the name as Wata Tepa.

Takarei notes that she had to ask her extended family, and they stated that it was theirs, due to the fact that it comes back to Ngāti Pāoa, and that he was the son of Haora Tipa Koinaki.

According to the museum, the korowai was given by Tipa to a Mr. Stockham back in 1891, who then brought it to Australia.

The whanau, the extended family, noted that the Victoria Museums have been very helpful, and have done much to ensure that they are involved in the repatriation process. Witika-Takerei took note of how cared for the korowai were, carefully wrapped by the museum.

The decision to give the korowai to the Auckland Museum, Witikia-Takerei says, was a decision made by the whole extended family, as they believe that the museum is capable of preserving such an artefact for the future generation.

The whanau state that it is imperative to welcome a powhiri in order to properly welcome the cloak, and they plan to host many people, though they do admit that they might have to move the date of the festivities in order to account for the costs of having to hire a hire a marquee in Melbourne, part of the route home for the artefact, and in other places.