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Building a Friendship Agreement with Tokomaru Bay

In November of 2018, collections manager Chris Philipp and collections center director Christine Gianonni traveled to Aotearoa to visit the whanau, or extended family, of Ruatepupuke II. Discussions focused on the understanding, or Friendship Agreement, between our institution in Chicago and the community in Tokomaru Bay. The agreement will help articulate the commitment that the Museum and the community have made regarding the spiritual and physical care of the house.

Through this agreement, we hope to make some positive changes to the marae surrounding the house and enhance visitors’ understanding and experience of the space and its meaning. Following the whanau's recommendation, Museum staff will install a koha, or gift, given to the house, with label text written by the community in the coming months.

The Museum’s Filipino-American co-curators also sent a gift of Filipino cookbooks to the people of Tokomaru Bay. The Fil-Am community, among others, often use Ruatepupuke and the marae for community events; this gift was a small “thank you” to the family for the use of the space.

Christine and Chris at Te Araroa on the east coast of the North Island visiting Te-Waha-O-Rerekohu, the largest pohutukawa tree (Metrosideros excelsa) in the world. It stands over 21 meters tall, is 40 meters in diameter at its widest point, and is believed to be well over 350 years old. Photo by Michael Weis

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