IMAGE (Top L-R): Nora Hemi, Sue Leya, Norbert Klose, Kate Rankin, Jane dU Feu, MNZM, Brian Flintoff. (Middle L-R): Duncan Steel, Rachel Boyack, Sophie Rankin, Bhoj Raj Subba, Olivia Mark, Ariana Banks. (Bottom L-R): Amanda Kane, Cumorah-Lee Aiolupotea, Pic Picot, Kat Jones, Rachel Reese, Te Piripoho Barrett-Alesana.:

IMAGE (Top L-R): Nora Hemi, Sue Leya, Norbert Klose, Kate Rankin, Jane dU Feu, MNZM, Brian Flintoff. (Middle L-R): Duncan Steel, Rachel Boyack, Sophie Rankin, Bhoj Raj Subba, Olivia Mark, Ariana Banks. (Bottom L-R): Amanda Kane, Cumorah-Lee Aiolupotea, Pic Picot, Kat Jones, Rachel Reese, Te Piripoho Barrett-Alesana.:

The team at the Nelson Provincial Museum have been on a treasure hunt to find out what the people in our community hold most dear to their hearts, as a part of our recent Kura Pounamu: Our treasured stone exhibition.

Members from local iwi, business people, scientists, politicians, artists, home-towners, new-comers, young’uns and the young-at-heart shared their taonga with us as we aimed to capture images and videos of their captivating stories..

My taonga collage_Ariana Banks.jpg

Nine-year-old Ariana Banks delighted us with her tale - delivered in full Te Reo Māori - of her Kohanga Reo (early childhood centre) and the traditional bone carving she received on her last day there. “The two koru at the top is the two teachers,” she explained, “and the parents helping the kids down the bottom…” Being the youngest of her siblings Ariana’s departure from her Kohunga marked an end to her whānau’s connection with it and the start of a new phase. “My taonga represents my family’s journey” she told us insightfully..

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Pic Picot - or “Peanut Butter Guy” as some would call him - had us all guessing at his strangely beautiful carved kauri taonga. “This is a pattern for making an iron piece for a floating crane” he explained. “I found it in a foundry in Auckland”. Pic, who was a boat builder at one time talked about his affinity with the piece, which reminds him of the sea. “It’s just the most extraordinary piece of work,” he said,”… a real treasure.”

My taonga collage_Nora Hemi.jpg

Whaea Nora Hemi left us gobsmacked as she revealed the background to her 180-odd year old hei tiki, which her father had entrusted her with, alongside a traditional korowai (cloak), over 40 years ago. “[My dad] had put the tiki and the korowai in a big tin box”, she recalled of the chocolate box and newspaper-wrapped taonga, “and I thought ‘well that’s cool!’" Whaea Nora still has the newspaper alongside memories of her daughter playing with the hei tiki. “It used to be her doll,” she recalled. Both items - important regional taonga - are currently on display at the Nelson Provincial Museum.

My taonga collage_Olivia Mark.jpg

Olivia Mark, originally from Richmond in Nelson, might be seen wearing her taonga around the halls of Victoria University in Te Whanganui-A-Tara Wellington, where she is studying environmental science and geology. Her pounamu necklace was gifted to her by her dad as a way to help her incorporate Māori heritage and culture into her life. It reminds her to stay grounded and aware.

My taonga collage_Sue Leya.jpg

Myanmar-born Sue Leya has been in Nelson for 12 years but reconnects with her roots through treasures such as this traditional Burmese Chin longyi made by her mum. Woven by hand with the use of a loom it took around two to three months of full time work to complete. “It very precious to me because it came from my mum”, says Sue. “It’s something I will have forever.”

My taonga collage_Rachel Boyack.jpg

This incredible heritage quilt was made for Rachel Boyack’s grandmother by Rachel’s aunt (and godmother) and a friend. Rachel inherited it and has been wrapping herself up in its warmth ever since. Her grandmother loved to quilt, crochet, knit and make things, so it’s very much in keeping with her grandmother’s memory. Rachel plans to pass it on to her descendants in time, enabling generations to fend off the cold for years to come!

What do you treasure in your life?

We’d love to hear more about it. Get on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to share your story and maybe a picture too, adding #mytaonga to your message to join in the wider conversation.

Search #mytaonga on these channels to read other people’s stories.

Read more about #mytaonga in the Nelson Mail here.