People of Te Uri O Hau at the Waihaua Marae gave an emotional welcome to historical Maori artefacts, taonga, returned to Kaipara from Auckland Museum

A significant Kaipara homecoming

by Paul Campbell

In an emotional ceremony, Kaipara’s Waihaua Marae echoed with karakia and a spirited haka last weekend as the people of Te Uri o Hau welcomed home a collection of Maori taonga, a treasured collection of artefacts collected by a pioneer farmer, which has lain in the Auckland Museum for many decades.

“History was celebrated on Saturday when the Andrew Rintoul collection of Maori taonga was returned to the Kaipara.” said The Kauri Museum general manager, Dr Tracey Wedge.

“Twelve-year-old Andrew arrived in Matakohe with his family as part of the Albertland Settlement Scheme of 1862. His fascination with his new homeland and its people started on the day he set foot on these shores. For the rest of his life he worked the land and travelled through Northland, and other parts of the country, and formed relationships with the tangata whenua.”

When Mr Rintoul died in 1913, the care of his collections of polished kauri gum and Maori artefacts, including carved panels, implements and other taonga, passed to his wife and then his son Alexander. Both these important Northland collections were bequeathed by Alexander to what was the Otamatea Kauri and Pioneer Museum at Matakohe (now The Kauri Museum) in 1968. The kauri gum collection has been on display at the museum ever since.

“The Maori taonga, which had been loaned to Auckland Museum by the Rintoul family in 1925, has taken longer to come home,” said Dr Wedge.

“Then Saturday saw Andrew’s collection finally return. There was a 6am gathering, at Auckland Museum, of Ngati Whatua, Auckland Museum staff and kaumatua, The Kauri Museum board and management began the journey northwards and the convoy arrived to a haka powhiri at Waihaua Marae where the taonga were welcomed home, blessed and inspected by the people of Te Uri o Hau and descendants of Andrew Rintoul.

“The collection was then transferred to The Kauri Museum, where an exhibition of the collection will be opened on December 13.

Dr Wedge said the return of the collection brings some important stories back to the Kaipara.

“We are looking forward to working with tangata whenua and the Rintoul family to unravel the history of these treasures. Saturday was a true celebration of our shared histories.”

Scotsman Rintoul is thought to have kept diaries of his travels and collections, but these have been lost in time.

While a search of archives will continue, the museum will work with the people of Te Uri o Hau to unravel the history as these artefacts are incorporated permanently into the overall museum exhibition.

“Te Uri o Hau will now have the opportunity to share their stories with generations to come.”