Chairman Maos cloak to return to NZ

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20130411-170813.jpgMaori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples today formally received a Maori feather cloak (kahu huruhuru) in Beijing, which will be temporarily loaned to Te Papa for display later this year.

The cloak was given to Chairman Mao Zedong in 1957 by New Zealand pioneer film maker Ramai Te Miha Hayward on behalf of the fifth Maori King, Koroki. It was presented to Dr Sharples and the Prime Ministers delegation at a ceremony at the National Museum of China in Beijing, China today.

The kahu huruhuru is an important treasure and we are looking forward to bringing it home and giving New Zealanders the opportunity to see it, says Dr Sharples.

Ramai, and her husband Rudall Hayward, produced three films, including Inside Red China, which shows Ramai placing the feather cloak on Chairman Maos shoulders.

The Haywards were part of a small delegation of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, invited to visit China in 1957. The group included poet Ron Mason.

Ramai presented the cloak to Chairman Mao in Tiananmen Square telling him it was a gift of goodwill to the leaders of China from our M?ori King of Aotearoa. She said: We are the smallest nation in the world, giving this gift to the largest nation in the world. He replied: The smallest is as great as the largest.

In 2004, the New Zealand Ambassador, John McKinnon, having read Ramais account and seen the film, Inside Red China, searched for the cloak which he found, stored with foreign gifts in the National Museum of China collection, in Beijing.

With the support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage and the Chinese Embassy in Wellington, Te Papa asked to show the cloak alongside the exhibitions – Kura Pounamu: Treasured Stone of Aotearoa New Zealand, and Brian Brake: Lens on China and New Zealand, which have recently been on show there. (Kura Pounamu is currently on a nationwide tour of China).

The cloak will be on display at Te Papa from 13 June to 20 October 2013.

Dr Sharples is currently accompanying Prime Minister John Key, who is leading a large business and cultural delegation on a five-day trade mission through China.

 

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