Te Papa to take down damaged Treaty of Waitangi exhibition

The Te Papa exhibition was damaged with spray paint and an angle grinder in December. Photo: RNZ
The Te Papa exhibition was damaged with spray paint and an angle grinder in December. Photo: RNZ
A Treaty of Waitangi display at Te Papa in Wellington which was spray-painted last year will be taken down next week.

Twelve people were arrested on December 11 after a wooden display panel showing an English version of the Treaty of Waitangi was damaged with spray paint and an angle grinder.

Aotearoa Liberation League and Te Waka Hourua - the Māori group affiliated with Extinction Rebellion - have claimed responsibility for the demonstration.

In a statement, Te Waka Hourua said the English display was not accurate, and had repeatedly called for it to be taken down.

The group said they believed the English text was displayed in a way which misled visitors.

"Te Tiriti, in te reo Māori, is the only legitimate, legally binding agreement.

"While Te Tiriti affirms Māori sovereignty, the English document says it was ceded.

"The miseducation around Te Tiriti has resulted in a population who are ignorant of the promises made to Māori, leading to fearfulness and division."

The group wanted an "an accurate translation for all New Zealanders to be able to read and understand".

At the time of the incident, Te Papa said the purpose of the exhibition - which had been up in some form since the museum opened in 1998 - was to provide a space for conversations about the Treaty.

But it said that conversation needed to change to meet the needs of the day, and it had made the decision to renew and reimagine the display.

Te Papa co-leaders Arapata Hakiwai and Courtney Johnston said keeping the panel in place temporarily had led to some valuable conversations.

"But it is right that we change the space now, and take this step towards the development of a brand-new exhibition."

Last year, Te Papa said the panel would remain on show stay up over summer and then be removed.

It will be stored by the museum and no decision has been made about its future.