Hongi's Hikoi

1 July 2022

Celebrating Hongi's Hikoi at the Chau Chak Wing Museum and beyond

The Museum's Curator of Ethnography, Rebecca Conway, recaps the commemorative event, 'Hongi's Hikoi'. 

Hikoi, is a Māori word for a long journey or march. After many setbacks, due to not one but two COVID lockdown-related cancellations in 2020 and 2021, on Saturday 18 June 2022, the Chau Chak Wing Museum was proud to finally play host to Hongi's Hikoi. The event was the first in a series of long-anticipated bicentennial commemorative and educational initiative launches, presented by Brent Kerehona of Purakau Productions

A descendent of the famed Māori Ngāpuhi chief Hongi Hika (1772–1828), the events are a culmination of Kerehona's research surrounding Hongi's 1820–21 journey to England, with a young chief Waikato and the missionary Thomas Kendall. Part of his investigations have involved researching Māori taonga (treasured possessions) related to Hongi and his travels, including one of three known carved portraits of Hongi on display at the Museum

Commencing with an Aboriginal Wuyugil (Smoking/Cleansing Ceremony), the full-house event was attended by many dignitaries and drew on the expertise of many in the Sydney-Māori community. 

The extensive program included a Whakatau (opening ceremony), Karanga (welcoming call), Waerea (incantations and recitation of genealogy), Karakia (prayer), Whaikōrero (formal speech in Te Reo Māori and English), and Kapahaka cultural performances and singing. 

Kaupapa (presentations) from Brent included:

  • two illustrated lectures
    •  Hongi's Haerenga – focusing on Hongi Hika's trip to Poihākena/Port Jackson (Sydney) in 1814 and the comparison of three carved portraits attributed to this visit, including the one at the Chau Chak Wing Museum
    • Hongi's Kākakahu: Rangatira to Royalty – focusing on the meeting between King George IV and Hongi Hika at Carlton House, England on November 13 1820, and the practice and products of the tuku or reciprocal gifting that took place at this time; 
  • a short film showing Hongi's Hīkoi: A Trio of Travellers
  • the launch of the related educational children's books in English and Te Reo Māori. 

Hongi's Hikoi moves on to Aotearoa (New Zealand) in July, with Brent Kerehona presenting on Saturday 9 July at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Te Ika-a-Māui (North Island) and introducing his historical children's books at several local schools.