New Zealand Embassy Berlin, Germany

Rauru celebrates its centenary in Hamburg

Rauru (Photo: Paul Schimweg, Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg)

Rauru, one of the finest meeting houses outside of Aotearoa-New Zealand, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2012. The whare (meeting house) is one of the first and continues to be one of the most significant artefacts in the permanent Oceanic exhibition in the Hamburg Museum of Ethnology.

Rauru was built in Rotorua in the late 1800s, some of its components likely dating back to the 1870s, when Te Waru of Ngati Whaoa commissioned the carvings in honour of his wife. However, it took several attempts to finish the house. Finally Charles Nelson, the proprietor of the Geyser Hotel, succeeded in erecting the building at Whakarewarewa in 1900, and eventually sold it to Germany a decade later. 

The whare marks a decisive phase in traditional Maori carving, having been in the accomplished hands of the renowned Maori carvers Anaha te Rahui, Neke Kapua and Tene Waitere. Through their skilled workmanship and depictions of tribal ancestors and Māori legends Rauru has been awarded deserved distinction.

In honour of the 100th Anniversary of the whare’s existence in Hamburg, expert restorers from New Zealand, together with craftspeople from the Te Arawa Iwi, will refurbish the house using traditional tools, methods, and materials that have been harvested in New Zealand and imported especially for the restoration. Rauru will be blessed by visiting members of the Te Arawa Iwi and reopened to the public in October 2012. You can follow the restoration progress by clicking on this link to the museum blog.

The opening celebrations will be organised by the Museum of Ethnology, together with the New Zealand Consulate in Hamburg and the New Zealand Embassy in Berlin. The celebrations on Sunday 7th October will focus on traditional and contemporary Māori culture and New Zealand.

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