Formal Friday 2.0 Exhibition


Due to popular demand, we have extended this exhibition until July 2021. This is a great opportunity for all that missed out on visiting this exhibition during Covid change of levels, to see textiles from the Museum collection up close and personal.

As this is our response to the #FormalFridays Instagram hashtag that went viral with up to 40,000 tags alone, we thought it would be awesome if you would tag yourself with your #FormalFriday outfit on our Instagram @teawamutu_museum!

We’ll have a new video up and posted when we have time….watch this space!


Te Ohanga Ake is a PHD exegesis exhibition describing visually, intergenerational knowledge exchange through Māori fibre arts.

Te Kanawa, based in Te Kuiti, acknowledges her mother Diggeress Te Kanawa and her kia, Rangimarie Hetet as her primary sources of knowledge and  innovation. Te Kanawa remembers on of her mum’s says that epitomises her weaving process. “Mum always said this to our whānau…”

“Tō tātou waka, ko te rangimārie, te hoe o runga, te puna o te aroha e!”

“Our waka is the waka of peace, the paddle that propels us forward is the source of love from above!”

Te Ohonga Ake is an exquisite collection of kete, kākahu, pot, whāriki, tīpare, tukutuku, piupiu and kono, created between 1970 and today. The extensive grouping of taonga on display accentuates Te Kanawa’s development of her own creative processes and innovations.

The highlight within the collection of work is Te Kanawa’s personal challenge to re-create a pūkoro based on a taonga from the Otago Museum Collection.

“This was something that caught my eye. I was drawn not only to its weave and use, but I wanted to disparage its description given by an early European who tossed it aside as a rag!”

In addition to Te Kanawa’s own work, she has included some beautiful taonga created by her mother, grandmother and great grandmother, some of which they worked on together as a whānau.

“Mum and Nana, always said to me as we were working together – let your mahi speak for you”

This exhibition does just that. It shares the exchange that happens between whānau members when working in and sharing the intricacies of traditional art forms and processes. Mauri ora!

Formal Friday Exhibition


Our latest exhibition is what I would like to call a rapid response show- one that was created on a very short timeline in response to what is happening in the world around us the moment.

Formal Friday became a whimsical trend in New Zealand during our response to Covid-19 global pandemic.
We’ve heard it all before; we went into lockdown for weeks on end, we were asked to work from home, we socially distanced, we shrunk our social bubbles and started living in our comfy gear. Whether this was all day in active wear, rotating the same pair of trackpants, or refusing to put on “real clothes.”
In effort to break up the monotony New Zealand moved from casual Fridays at the office, to Formal Fridays at home. All championed by our very own TV personality Hilary Barry!
Wearing Formal wear on Fridays uplifted our spirits, got us looking in our closets for our best glad rags and made Friday meetings on zoom something to look forward to.
The movement of #FormalFridays went viral with up to 40,000 tags alone on Instagram and many others taking part across other social media channels.
At Te Awamutu Museum we chose to harness this energy to ignite our own textile collection by creating a show that spans from the 1830s until today, and show what Formal Friday has meant to different people over time. Whether this is through the ceremonial outfits, what we once wore as daily attire, our uniforms or our best wears to church on a Sunday.
For our attempt at developing and creating a rapid response show and getting it all together in 6 weeks, we are pretty proud with how it all came together!
Here’s a video by our Megan Denz (Collections Manager) showing you some highlights from the exhibition.
Due to popular demand, we have extended this exhibition and will add new components to it. Watch this space!
Toi Manawa Artist Events

Toi Manawa Artist Events

Join the talented artists of the Toi Manawa exhibition to learn more about their creative processes!

The group artist talk on 16 Nov 2017 is free entry, the artist talk and performance on 23 Nov is gold coin donation.

Registration is essential, contact us now to reserve your place.

07 872 0085 or

The Queen Victoria Lithograph


Portrait of The Royal Family Queen Victoria,  Prince Albert and their Five Children.  Lithograph 1846

This  lithograph is an exquisite  exemplar of the reproduction of a portrait of the British imperial family. Franz Xavier Winterhalter, painter to the Royal Courts of Europe, completed this image in 1845. The Parisian lithographer, Alphonse Leon Noel,  copied it on commission a year later.

Queen Victoria sits with the Royal Consort Prince Albert, surrounded by five of their nine children – on her right, Prince Alfred in white, and Edward the Prince of Wales in red, while daughters Princess Alice, and her first born, Victoria the Princess Royal, admire the infant Princess Helena. How did this remarkable picture find its way to Te Awamutu?

By 1849, the Waipā valley supported many flourishing flour mills, and vast acreages of grain. Early missionaries had introduced new horticultural practice and technology, in which the local iwi excelled.  Their communities flourished, exporting produce to Auckland, and later Sydney and California. Three successful mills operated in Rangiaowhia, and entrepreneurial leaders included the chiefs Kingi (George) Te Waru of Ngāti Apakura and Hoani Papaiti (John Baptist) Kahawai of Ngāti Hinetu.  When Governor Sir George Grey visited the Waipā district in 1849, these  two chiefs urged him to present a gift of their finest flour, accompanied by a letter,  to Queen Victoria. This missive declared –

“We, King George Te Waru, and John Baptist Kahawai, salute you; we return our thanks to you for your letter, in which you tell us that the land shall not be taken away; but that the Treaty of Waitangi shall be abided by. We are averse to fighting with white people, or amongst ourselves, but let the Queen always foster us; we approve of the custom of the white people, and the Governor loves us.”

As receipt of such gifts was not the Queen’s policy, the Secretary of State for the Colonies wrote from Downing Street, London on the 7th March 1850 acknowledging the above letter and the gift of flour to  Her Majesty.  Making an exception from her usual practice, the Secretary advised them that in this case she accepted both the flour and the letter –

“as an expression of their loyalty and attachment. As a mark of Her Majesty’s appreciation of the good conduct of these chiefs which you have reported to Her, the Queen has been pleased to order two pictures of Herself with His Royal Highness Prince Albert and the Royal children, to be transmitted to you for presentation to them”.

The two art works reached New Zealand in 1850. One was of the Royal Family; the other was described the Queen in ceremonial robes. They were exhibited initially in Auckland , as a “source of gratification to the native population generally”, and then conveyed by waka along the Mangapiko River, where they rested on the Sabbath, just below Ōtāwhao, now Te Awamutu.  From there, they proceeded to Kahawai’s house, and then to the homestead of Te Waru.

At each place they were greeted with cheers and great excitement by both Europeans and Māori. In a letter dated December 12th 1850, the Reverend John Morgan noted that –

“the Queen arrived safely by waka at Rangiaohia on Monday the 9th, a little below the Rangiaohia mill”.

By referring to the paintings as a living person, the Queen Herself, Reverend Morgan reflects the Māori sensibility of the time. He eventually became the custodian of Te Waru’s gift, and his house was “frequently crowded with visitors looking at the picture for hours at a time…” Kahawai’s royal portrait was cared for by  Father Garaval in the Roman Catholic Presbytery;  Te Waru was a Protestant and Kahawai followed the  Catholic faith.

In 1863, colonial forces invaded the Waikato. In February 1864, Randle Cotton Mainwaring, government agent, took possession of Morgan’s property which the Reverend had entrusted to Hohaia Ngahiwi, who was well aware of the importance of the painting. Mainwaring and his cohort occupied Ngahiwi’s house, and the mission, and then relocated Ngahiwi to Hopuhopu. He also took the painting to his own house at Whatawhata. From this point, conflict occurs. William Searancke, Resident Magistrate of Kirikiriroa (renamed Hamilton), acquired the artwork, insisting in private correspondence that “the picture was looted by the troops during the campaign and purchased by Mr Mainwaring from the soldiers. Hori Te Waru’s people then being in open rebellion.” Searancke thus acknowleged the image as a trophy of war, and effectively countered any further claims. The lithograph remained in his family for many decades.

Almost a century later, in 1958, Miss Phyllis von Sturmer donated the picture to the Te Awamutu Museum, “to be held in memory of my grandfather, Wm. Searancke.”

If you wish find out further information about the lithograph, contact our staff on 07 872 0085 or