Ko Tawa

Sunday May 24 at 8.30 PM

Series finale.  The stories behind some of the incredible taonga from the collection of 19th Century colonial figure Gilbert Mair. Te Murirangaranga is the koauau, or bone flute, made famous in the legend of Tutanekai and his beloved Hinemoa, who swam across Lake Rotorua to Mokoia Island to be with him.  For extraordinary reasons explained in this programme, Tawa – Gilbert Mair – was gifted this prestigious taonga of Ngati Whakaue. Mita Mohi, Rukingi Richards, Raimona Inia and Tihini Grant tell the story of Murirangaranga.

Sunday May 17 at 8.30 PM

A series based on the incredible taonga from the collection of 19th Century colonial figure, Captain Gilbert Mair. Tuhawhe, is a bone-handled axe presented to Tawa – the name given to Mair by Maori – in 1872. Through Tuhawhe a story of dispossession, land loss and injustice for an innocent man – Mokomoko – is told. Professor Ranginui Walker and Te Kahautu Maxwell from Whakatohea recount the story of Mokomoko.

Sunday May 10 at 8.30 PM

A six-part series telling the stories behind a selection of taonga collected by Captain Gilbert Mair throughout his lifetime.  Tonight: Two beautiful taonga are profiled. Te Kahumamae o Pareraututu is the cloak of pain woven by Ngati Rangitihi rangatira, Pareraututu, on the death of her men at the battle of Pukekaikahu. Te Awa o Te Atua is the putatara used for over 200 years by Tuwharetoa rangatira to herald the birth of the first-born sons of the iwi. Bound together by the moment of their gifting, their stories are told by Cathy Dewes, Pou Temara and Paranapa Otiini.

A six-part series telling the stories behind a selection of taonga collected by Captain Gilbert Mair throughout his lifetime.  Tonight: Te Mautaranui was a famous Urewera and Bay of Plenty chief, in possession of a fearsome tewhatewha, a two-handed weapon made from white manuka.

Sunday April 26 at 8.30 PM

A six-part series telling the stories behind a selection of taonga collected by Captain Gilbert Mair throughout his lifetime.  Tonight: Te Raukaraka.  Kihi Ngatai, Hauata Palmer and Reweti Te Mete tell the story surrounding a mere pounamu – greenstone mere – gifted to Gilbert Mair under special circumstances.

Sunday April 19 at 8.30 PM

Series premiere!  A fascinating six-part series that tells the stories behind a selection of taonga collected by Captain Gilbert Mair in the 19th Century.  Tonight: Kinikini is about a rain cape in the collection that belonged to Te Kooti. The story takes us back to the days of Te Kooti and Mair, a colonial soldier, as warriors on opposing sides.

A new series on one of the most significant collections of Maori taonga – treasures – KO TAWA premieres on Maori Television on Sunday April 19 at 8.30 PM.

KO TAWA is a six-part historical series that tells the stories behind a selection of taonga collected by Captain Gilbert Mair (1843–1923) throughout his lifetime, from communities around the North Island.

Among the extraordinary artefacts featured in the series is Murirangaranga, the famous flute that Tutanekai played to his sweetheart Hinemoa, before she eventually swam to Mokoia Island to be with him.  Another is Te Awa o te Atua, the putatara – conch shell trumpet – used by Tuwharetoa rangatira to herald the birth of the first-born sons of the iwi for over 200 years.

“The first episode, ‘Te Kinikini o Te Kooti’ is about a rain cape in the collection that belonged to Te Kooti. The story takes us back to the days of Te Kooti and Mair, a colonial soldier, as warriors on opposing sides,” says KO TAWA producer Jeni-Leigh Walker.

Mair was a contentious figure amongst Maori. Some iwi saw him as being the face of the Government militia in the period of the New Zealand land wars, while to others he was a courageous warrior on the battlefield, and a skilled negotiator between iwi and the Crown.  Using dramatisation and interviews with direct descendants, this series is able to recreate the stories and that historical context.

Mair, who grew up with close connections to Maori, is seen today as having an understanding of the value of these artefacts, in a way that was unusual for the time.

“It is to this country’s good fortune that Gilbert Mair – or Tawa as he was known – kept the associated histories and stories when taonga were gifted to him,” says KO TAWA producer Jeni-Leigh Walker. “Those stories went with the taonga to the Auckland Museum in the late 1800s, and our series has been able to draw on those narratives.  The stories and the taonga also provide descendants with tangible links to their ancestors, tribal lands and rich histories.”

While the history-laden objects are at the heart of the programme, their context – the collector himself, and our nation’s colonial past, in which he was a key figure – is just as intriguing.

A soldier, translator and Native Land Court assessor, Mair was deeply involved in the Maori-Pakeha relationship, which didn’t please all sides. He fought against Te Kooti, and in his final campaigns he led and fought with a column of exclusively Maori warriors.  He was awarded the New Zealand Cross, and in later life greeted visiting royalty onto marae. He was eventually buried as a rangitira – chief – of Te Arawa, at Ohinemutu in Rotorua.

The programme is narrated by Wetini Mitai-Ngatai. It was inspired by the book of the same name – Ko Tawa – written and edited by Professor Paora Tapsell, who curated an exhibition of the taonga. Both are descendants of Te Arawa, whose own ancestors once carried some of these artefacts.

A series that brings the past to life, and conveys the history that Maori and Pakeha share – KO TAWA screens on Maori Television from Sunday April 19 at 8.30 PM.  In Maori with English subtitles.