Te Whare Taonga o Kororareka

Hinemoa & Tūtānekai – #153

Hinemoa & Tūtānekai – #153

Coincidence, synergy or synchronicity? Destiny maybe? Call it what you will, there is something going on which makes you wonder. Following the bequest of a significant collection of the work of Pauline and James Yearbury five years ago we have been searching out and acquiring their wooden panels. The latest of these, Hinemoa and Tūtānekai is now on display in the Marie King Gallery. It is the first panel we have seen that depicts historical figures rather than mythical ones. It returned to Russell last week, from the US, where it had been since being bought here in the 1970s. The story of these two courageous lovers is a well known one, but not, surely a local one? Hinemoa’s legendary swim was across the waters of Lake Rotorua, from Owhata to Mokoia Island, guided by the sounds of Tūtānekai ‘s flute. A couple of generations later, one of their descendants was taken captive by Hongi Hika’s 1823 tauā (war party)and brought back to the Bay of Islands. She was not captive for long, marrying Thomas Joyce, and founding a large local family. This family named two of their whaleboats for their famed ancestors. Their whaleboat “Tutanekai” is on display, in its own shelter, in Russell Museum’s grounds. An oar, believed to be from the second whaleboat, “Hinemoa” was found and presented to the museum in 2010. And now we have their images on the wall. But where is the other whaleboat? Is it too, somewhere out there, waiting to be found?