Artefact series offers gripping NZ historical dramas

Artefact is an exciting six  part series presented by Dame Professor Anne Salmond (pictured below), which takes viewers on adventures through time with a focus on artefacts and taonga at the heart of gripping and often surprising historical dramas.

A number of Ngāi Tahu people participate in this series, including  a UC doctoral graduate.

Artefact also shines the light on contemporary themes and challenges viewers to think about what sort of Aotearoa we want to leave our children. Created by Greenstone TV, for Māori TV, Artefact connects today’s New Zealanders with our ancestors’ experiences and aspirations, through the powerful stories of the artefacts that have survived them. 

Episode 1 – Star Travel – 7 May 
In this episode we find taonga that open the window to our Pacific voyaging tradition – a feat likened to space travel which saw Polynesians navigate their way across the Pacific to Aotearoa. Dame Anne travels around our country as well as England to find taonga and people to tell these stories of voyaging and adventure. A group of Toi Hauiti whānau are reunited with the voyaging tipuna Paikea who is housed in the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

Episode 2 – Tangata Whenua – 14 May
Dame Anne introduces us to taonga that shine the light on the remarkable innovations Polynesian settlers made once they reached Aotearoa. Their adaptations to new resources meant that they became tangata whenua in Aotearoa – Māori. The taonga we find show innovations in all things – clothing, gardening, stone tools and includes a map that illustrates a remarkable and intimate knowledge of the land as well as a distinctively Māori world view.

Episode 3 – The Power of Gifts – 21 May 
From the very first encounters between Māori and Europeans, gifts were exchanged, signaling a desire to forge relationships and strong connections that would last over time and generations. Dame Anne finds taonga that tell these stories: they include hoe given to crew of the Endeavour; Hongi Hika’s korowai which he gave to King George; a medal given by Governor King to the northern rangatira Te Pahi and gifts exchanged between Ngāti Huia and the Onslow family.

Episode 4 – Threads that Bind – 28 May
Clothing is more than adornment, clothes can carry political messages, they often signal identity and status and can be used to satirise. Dame Anne leads us to taonga that tell stories of remarkable people and moments in time where clothes have provided powerful statements. A kaitaka that literally saves the life of a young boy; Tame Iti speaks about the way clothes can carry a political message.  The extensive clothing collection of Whetu Tirakatene-Sullivan demonstrates how she used clothes to make strong political statements.

Episode 5 – In Pursuit of Harmony – 4 June 
Dame Anne finds taonga that tease out the story of music and musical instruments in Aotearoa. From earliest taonga puoro, to introduced Western instruments, these taonga tell the story of traditional music nearly silenced, a new music arriving and the way two musical traditions have intersected. The taonga in this episode include a magnificent carved Steinway grand piano, an ancient pūtorino that hasn’t been played in living memory, a treasured Gibson Les Paul guitar and a website that celebrates the traditional percussive instrument – the poi.

Episode 6 – The Call of the Huia – 11 June 11
Beginning with some remarkable Huia bird specimens this episode challenges us to learn from our past and to think carefully about the sort of Aotearoa we want to leave our children. Taonga featured include huia birds and feathers, and living taonga such as Whanganui River, Te Urewera and the remarkable Te Kura Whare / Living House in Taneatua. How can we learn from our past and the tragic story of the Huia bird. What are the exciting possibilities for the future?

(Text and photo published with the permission of Greenstone TV)

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