Kura Gallery Maori Art Design BNZ Matariki Celebration tekoteko

Teko teko
NFS – from the BNZ collection

In September 1984, to mark the completion of the magnificent new BNZ Centre in Wellington, the Bank decided to purchase an important taonga Maori from overseas and return it to New Zealand.

While the opportunity existed to commission a new artwork, the prospect of repatriating a taonga was seen as a better way for the Bank to contribute to New Zealand’s national identity and reclaim an important part of our cultural and artistic heritage. The Bank wanted to acknowledge the richness of Maori culture and support the emergence of New Zealand as a diverse, multi-cultural, dynamic country.

Sir Graham Lattimer, Chairman of the Maori Council at the time, supported the homecoming of an important taonga. It took some time to find the right piece, but finally a suitable taonga appeared in Sotheby’s, New York.

The teko teko is believed to have originated from the Bay of Plenty region. Parts of the teko teko’s journey remain a mystery but it is understood that this teko teko was originally collected by the Reverend John Waterhouse during his voyages down the west coast of the North Island in 1840.

The teko teko was unveiled during a small gathering in the BNZ Centre. A Maori kaumatua said a prayer, blessed the carving and welcomed it back to the country of its creation.