History & heritage  |  22 Jan 2019

Early maps showcasing Māori place names for Canterbury will be on public display for the first time in an exhibition opening this weekend at Tūranga.

Kā Huru Manu (the Ngāi Tahu Cultural Mapping Project) will be at the Southbase gallery on level 2 of the city library from 26 January until 28 April. 

Ka Huru Manu Project Leader Takerei Norton.

Kā Huru Manu Project Leader Takerei Norton examines one of the early maps that will be exhibited at Tūranga.

The exhibition complements the interactive online Ngāi Tahu Atlas, Kā Huru Manu, that has been compiled by Ngāi Tahu over the past decade and was launched in 2017. It features over 1200 traditional Māori place names in Te Waipounamu (the South Island).

The Tūranga exhibition will feature reproductions of six hand drawn maps of the Canterbury region, some of which date back to the 1890s.

Each map is accompanied by an IPad that visitors can use to look up information about its history and learn about the people who produced them. Unique artefacts will also be on display, including original 19th century correspondence that will also be on show for the first time.

Kā Huru Manu Project Leader Takerei Norton says most of these maps have been stored away from public view in archival and museum collections and this will be the first time they can be seen by the public.

“Some of these maps have only been unearthed in the last couple of years as part of our place names research. We want to help bring these maps to life and ensure that this information is more readily available.”

One of these maps is of the Māori place names along the Waitaki River drawn in the 1890s by Tieke Pukurākau. He lived at Glenavy and was well-known for his annual food gathering trips to Te Manahuna (the Mackenzie Basin). His map was given to a local farmer, who then passed it on to well-known ethnologist Johannes Andersen.

Others on display include a map of the Māori place names for Christchurch waterways, a Banks Peninsula map and a map of Māori place names from Central Otago to the Rakaia River drawn in 1898 from information provided by well-known Ngāi Tahu leader Rāwiri Te Maire.

A programme designed for schools is also part of the exhibition and Mr Norton hopes it will help encourage more schools to start using the Kā Huru Manu digital atlas.

The atlas allows people to “virtually” visit places in the Ngāi Tahu rohe (tribal area) and find out more about their Māori names and stories. Mr Norton says since its launch the site has had more than 80,000 views.

• A presentation explaining the history of the exhibition will be held at Tūranga from 1pm on 26 January led by Sir Tipene O’Regan. It is open to the public.