The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


He Tohu exhibition attracts 10,000 visitors

13 July 2017

The new He Tohu exhibition at the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa celebrated its 10,000th visitor yesterday.

Tetini and Timana Pokoati, 12 year-old twins from Gisborne, were jointly given the honour of being the 10,000th and 10,001st visitors, as they visited He Tohu with their whānau.

They were gifted He Tohu t-shirts and a set of three books about the history of the documents exhibited at He Tohu, published by Bridget Williams Books.

“Attracting 10,000 visitors less than eight weeks after opening is a tribute to the care and effort that has gone into He Tohu. It is remarkable, accessible experience for all New Zealanders, particularly our young people,’’ said Peter Murray, Deputy Chief Executive, Department of Internal Affairs.

He Tohu, a new permanent exhibition of New Zealand’s iconic constitutional documents, opened to the public on 20 May 2017. Since then over 1,000 school children have come through the doors, along with teachers, families, overseas dignitaries and international and local tourists.

The Dominion Post suggested that every young person in the country should visit He Tohu. On the opening day, 84% of visitors surveyed said the exhibition greatly exceeded their expectations. Visitors have described He Tohu as ‘’unbelievably beautiful,’’ ‘’a magic place’’ and ‘’a huge experience.’’

He Tohu is open six days a week at the National Library of New Zealand, Molesworth Street, Wellington. Entry is free. He Tohu


For further information, please contact or call +64 27 535 8639
Images and film footage of He Tohu are available on request.

About He Tohu
He Tohu permanently exhibits three of New Zealand’s iconic constitutional documents:

  • 1835 He Whakaputanga o te Rangatiratanga o Nu Tireni — Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand;
  • 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi — Treaty of Waitangi; and
  • 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition — Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine

He Tohu features a state-of-the-art conservation space, designed to preserve the documents for generations to come. Interactive displays enable visitors to engage with the documents in new ways and discover their own personal connections, thanks to extensive research into the documents’ signatories.

He Tohu has three objectives: improving access to these iconic documents for all New Zealanders and visitors to our country; preserving fragile and priceless documentary heritage for future generations and enhancing learning opportunities about the historical, constitutional and cultural significance of the documents for young New Zealanders.

He Tohu is designed with young people in mind and the National Library’s learning specialists have developed innovative online and onsite learning resources for schools.

The name He Tohu means “the signs” and refers to the unique signatures or marks of those who supported these documents. For Māori these tohu are sacred as those who signed have added their mana.

He Tohu has been developed since 2014 in a partnership between Crown and Māori and with significant input from women’s groups.

The Te Puna Foundation, the fundraising arm of the National Library, is building a travel fund to bring school children from all around New Zealand to see He Tohu. The Government is matching donations dollar for dollar for the next two years and the Foundation is now seeking support from the public to contribute to the fund.

To learn more about He Tohu, or to donate to the Te Puna Foundation, please go to He Tohu or Te Puna Foundation