Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsSo we turn up at a storage area. There was Tane-Mata-Ariki. There was the ceremonial adze lying on the table, a bit of a freaky situation where we didn't plan for it. I knew it was a Mangaian adze because of the significant designs on it. I was honoured and privileged to meet him. It's one of those things that your feelings can't-- you can't really explain it. I don't know whether it ancestors just saying, come and see me or-- I wanted to say, a prayer for it, which is an important, language chant. The obvious thing was the lashing technique on the toki itself. And of course, the best head of the toki is from Mangaia.

Skip to 1 minute and 13 secondsFor us now, it's to question, which perspective is that written from? Each carver have their own signatures. So on the top of the toki, I identified there was three K designs that was carved really, really tiny.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 secondsThe Whakapapa or the [NON-ENGLISH] of that one is the three tribes that my great-great-great-grandpa [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] is identified as, that is almost his signature. Because I was so excited and started showing off my tattoo, which is called inverted K. In our language, it's called tikitikitanaka, which is two warriors standing back to back. And then the story goes that they were fighting in one of our tribal warfare. So what they done, they tie themselves back to back. And of course, when you look at them fighting, it's almost like a inverted K. So one of the design was a star compass and our navigational knowledge, I guess. And it's tattooed on the left side of his--

Skip to 2 minutes and 51 secondsthis part of the body. Anyway, the name of the star is called Maurua. And that was carved underneath, down the bottom of the toki. If you meet something or some objects that you have, growing up, to hear about the stories, and then of course, the knowledge that involve, and then of course the status in our society, and it's quite a tapu thing. So what I mean by tapu is sacred. It's like a god to us, to our society at the time. I see another toki that is not quite as distinct as this one. You can feel the difference, [NON-ENGLISH].. Or the-- we call it the Kano maia. Kano maia is referred to as the spirit of the toki.

Skip to 4 minutes and 0 secondsThe London Missionary Society is responsible for most of our artefacts being taken away. When they arrived, it was by-- well, John Williams. The chiefs were told if they convert to Christianity, then all their old ways of doing things need to be put away. Well, in this case, most of our artefacts were in a marae, were burnt. So how did some of these other artefacts survive? That's kind of a mystery. But maybe through the writings of people like Gill. Our history is through oral history. So we never write things down, because Gill have to translate those words into his own. And sometimes it will get lost in translation. [NON-ENGLISH],, where it was translated almost like "glorified."

Skip to 5 minutes and 13 secondsBut really, it's actually-- [CHUCKLES] it means "stiff." The bottom line for me is more for our next generation to look into our-- learn from our past through our artefacts, what that means to them. And by doing that, we are reviving or maintaining our language and our culture.

Tane Mata Ariki: meeting an ancestor

“Tangi ke e te metua, Tane Mata Ariki te Toki a Rongo.” Greetings to you, Tane Mata Ariki, the ceremonial adze, an ancestor to Rongo the supreme god, the god of gods.

In this video Robbie Atatoa explains how he met Tane-Mata-Ariki, the toki, or ceremonial adze, during a visit to the National Maritime Museum stores.

The toki is ta’onga (treasure, also spelt taonga) and originates from enua tupuna o Au’au (the ancestral land of Au’au), Mangaia. Mangaia is the southern-most island on the Pa Enua map.

Pa Enua means a group of islands. There is no traditional name for the Cook Islands as each island was independent of each other.

Tane-Mata-Ariki is a Chief’s toki, carved by the Ta’unga Taniera Tangitoru (Master Craftsman named Taniera Tangitoru). Tangitoru is connected to the carver Rori (of the tribe Ngati Tane) from Tahiti. The toki was carved from one of the main native trees toa (iron wood), tamanu (island mahogany), tou (cordia) and miro (Pacific rosewood).

Te toki ia iti pa manu a Rongo e te au vakevake e pu’ipu’i mai nei ia ora note iti tangata Mangaia.
(The story of Tane-Mata-Ariki is one of great importance for the Pacific Community).

Ia rangi oa te toki I Avaiki e Rongo.
(This is our time to revitalize).

The connection with this ancestral belonging allows insights to valuable knowledge, which is vital to the empowerment of future generations from Mangaia. The opportunity to bring these ta’onga out of storage and present them in the world is of great significance to the cultures of source communities.

Copyright: Jo Walsh and Natasha Vaike

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This video is from the free online course:

Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces

National Maritime Museum