Object: ’ie töga (cloth for toga) Le ageagea o Tumua
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|Title||’ie töga (cloth for toga) Le ageagea o Tumua|
Unknown, 1800s, Samoa
|Materials||plant fibre, feather|
|Classification||ceremonial objects, cloth money|
x 2280mm (Length)
x 2260mm (Width)
|Credit line||Gift of the New Zealand Government, 2002.|
This is a very precious 'ie töga (cloth for töga) from Samoa. The 'ie töga are the highest-ranking item in the Samoan exchange system and greatly valued. For example, in Samoan marriage ceremonies, 'ie töga are presented to the husband's family by the bride's family, and are viewed in much the same way as dowry property. They are also sometimes presented by the offending party in a ceremonial apology known as an ifoga.
Some 'ie töga are exchanged many times and pass through several generations, gaining value as their age and associations accumulate. They can be named, and the most important 'ie töga can have a series of names. The presence or use of a particularly old and fine 'ie töga brings great dignity to a ceremony or an event. Some 'ie töga can have such significance that they can symbolise the state or nation.
This 'ie töga is called Le Ageagea o Tumua (the substance of Tumua). Le Ageagea o Tumua was gifted to New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark after her public apology to the Samoan people, made in Samoa, in June 2002. Prime Minister Clarke visited Samoa to take part in Samoa's celebrations of forty years of political independence. While there, she took the opportunity to apologise on behalf of the New Zealand Government for events that took place during New Zealand's administration of Samoa from 1914 to 1962.
The two most traumatic events that took place during the New Zealand administration were an influenza outbreak in 1918, from which thousands of Samoan people died when an infected ship was allowed to dock; and the fatal shooting in 1929 of eleven people during a peaceful march by the Mau independence movement.
What is the relevance of this gift? According to Samoan Head of State Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi, the story of Le Ageagea o Tumua and the act of gifting it are both about love, death, remorse, and forgiveness between kin.
"In Samoan culture the gifting of Le Ageagea o Tumua is akin to parting with one's family, one's self. Le Ageagea o Tumua signifies and symbolises history and genealogy. It represents the legacies and inheritances of thirty-two generations, from Tui Atua Leutele Leiite to Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Efi. The gift is a message of love, remorse, and forgiveness. The gifting of Le Ageagea o Tumua to Helen Clark is a gifting to Aotearoa, and is akin to a gift of marriage where this marriage connects, reclaims and becomes the legacy of love between two nations, cultures and their children - the nations of Aotearoa and Samoa."
Le Ageagea o Tumua was gifted to Te Papa by the Office of the Prime Minister in 2002.
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