Te Papa’s Chief Executive Michael Houlihan has paid tribute to the New Zealand China Friendship Society for their role in the temporary return of a Māori feather cloak gifted to Chairman Mao Zedong.
New Zealand pioneer film maker Ramai Te Miha Hayward presented the cloak to Chairman Mao in 1957 on behalf of the fifth Maori King, Korokī when she was visiting China with other members of the New Zealand China Friendship Society.
“Ramai and her husband Rudall went to China at the invitation of Ron Mason who was then the Auckland President. They were the first English speaking foreigners allowed to film in China.
“It is very poignant that more than 50 years later the Society has played a key role in the cloak going on display at Te Papa for all to see,” said Michael Houlihan.
National President of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, Eric Livingstone says the temporary return of the cloak is historically significant for both countries as well as for the Society.
“Cloaks are important taonga and powerful symbols of cultural understanding. The loan of such an important taonga symbolises the strength of the relationship between Te Papa and the National Museum of China, and between the two countries.”
The cloak has recently been displayed alongside the exhibitions - Kura Pounamu: Treasured Stone of Aotearoa New Zealand, and Brian Brake: Lens on China and New Zealand, at the National Museum of China, in Beijing. (Kura Pounamu is currently on a nationwide tour of China and currently in Hangzhou).
The cloak was transported to New Zealand by Te Papa Curator Awhina Tamarapa and two senior staff from the National Museum of China.
The base (kaupapa) of the cloak is wool. The feathers are chicken, ring-necked pheasant, mallard duck, toroa (albatross) and pūkeko (swamp hen).
It will go on display at Te Papa from 13 June – 20 October 2013.
Te Papa has partnered with the New Zealand China Friendship Society to bring the cloak to New Zealand.
Updated on 23rd July 2015