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He Tohu: New Zealand’s new archive exhibition named

News: 10 August 2016

Internal Affairs Minister Hon Peter Dunne today announced the name and visual identity of the new archive exhibition to open within the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington during early 2017.

“The permanent exhibition will be known as ‘He Tohu’, which has a number of meanings – signs, signatures, marks and symbols. The exhibition will feature three important New Zealand constitutional documents:

• 1835 He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni - Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand

• 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi - Treaty of Waitangi

• 1893 Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine - Women’s Suffrage Petition.

“The name was chosen because it refers directly to the most obvious and powerful element of the exhibition’s three documents, the unique signatures or marks of those who supported them. The name ‘He Tohu’ will be used together with a more descriptive statement: ‘A declaration. A treaty. A petition’,” Mr Dunne said.

The name, visual identity and the exhibition itself were developed collaboratively by Department of Internal Affairs staff, external advisors to the project and the Taranaki Whānui naming committee. A number of iwi and manawhenua leaders involved with the project will be present at the launch to be held at the National Library.

“The new exhibition has three principle objectives and has been driven by the need to ensure our fragile and priceless documentary heritage is preserved for future generations as well as to improve access to the documents for all New Zealanders and visitors to New Zealand.

“It will also enhance learning opportunities, especially for students between 10 and 15 years old about the history of these taonga, their ongoing constitutional and cultural significance. I am confident it will promote conversation and understanding about nationhood and who we are,” Mr Dunne said.

Māori and Suffrage Petition advisory groups have provided the Department of Internal Affairs with valuable advice and guidance.

The exhibition will feature two distinct areas: a document room and an interpretive space.

“The room will have state-of-the-art conservation features, including environmentally controlled display cases. The interpretive area is designed to be a colourful and lively space with interactive features and learning areas for groups, particularly young people and school tours.

“The new exhibition is designed to be in place for at least another quarter of a century, with the new environmental controls and conditions ensuring the documents survive for many generations to come,” Mr Dunne said.

The building of the exhibition has commenced and the project has a capital budget of $6.7million, including exhibition design and construction.

See the He Tohu profile document at for further information about the three constitutional documents, He Tohu, its meaning and symbolism, also the story of the exhibition visual identity.

Updated on 24th April 2017