Story: Māori and museums – ngā whare taonga

Rauru wharenui, Museum für Völkerkunde, Hamburg

These carved panels are from Rauru, a wharenui (meeting house) held at the Museum für Völkerkunde (Museum of Ethnology), in Hamburg, Germany. The panels depict traditional stories: bird-woman Kurangaituku pursuing Hatupatu, the demigod Māui being crushed to death by Hine-nui-te-pō, the goddess of death, and Māui fishing up Te Ika-a-Māui (the North Island – literally 'the fish of Māui'). Rauru was constructed in Whakarewarewa, near Rotorua, from 1897 to 1900. It was not a tribal house but instead was privately commissioned by a Pākehā hotel keeper, Charles Nelson. The expert carvers Tene Waitere, Ānaha Te Rāhui and Neke Kapua produced innovative carvings for the house. Rauru was acquired by the Hamburg Museum in 1907 and erected there in 1912. Extensive restoration work was undertaken in 2012 to mark the centenary.

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Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg
Photograph by Paul Schimweg

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How to cite this page:

Paora Tapsell, 'Māori and museums – ngā whare taonga - Māori treasures and European museums', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/interactive/44073/rauru-wharenui-museum-fur-volkerkunde-hamburg (accessed 25 September 2020)

Story by Paora Tapsell, published 22 Oct 2014