WATCH: North East youngsters take on a Maori haka dance

Newcastle museum celebrates its Maori collection with dance session as part of a busy summer of events


Early explorers and travellers were fascinated by the native cultures they encountered around the world and brought home all sorts items with them.

And many of these objects ended up in the collections of the Natural History Society of Northumbria, which are held in the Great North Museum in Newcastle.

These include Maori items, such as the 18th Century paddle collected on Captain Cook’s landing at New Zealand on his voyage of discovery.

There is also a rare Maori high status whale tooth necklace.

Today the collection was celebrated by a Maori day at the museum, with youngsters learning the haka dance.

The haka war cry, dance or challenge has been made famous by the New Zealand rugby team’s pre-match displays.

Newcastle United players also came up against the haku on the pitch on their pre-season New Zealand tour last week.

As well as learning the traditional haka from the Corey Baker Dance group, youngsters could watch performances of traditional Maori songs and dances and handle Maori artefacts not usually on display.

The aim of the Haka Day Out was to introduce visitors to New Zealand’s native people, history and culture.

Dr Sarah Glynn, manager of the Great North Museum said: “This summer is rather special for us since we passed our fifth birthday in May and the Hancock Museum building turns 130 in August.

“We are celebrating our wonderful diverse collections with exciting family events all summer.”

Also in the museum’s Maori collection is a feeding funnel used to adminsiter liquid food to those who had undergone tribal tattoo procedures which left them with swollen mouths.

Curators were on hand with artefacts from the Natural History Society of Northumbria’s World Cultures collection such as a Maori staff, a model of a Maori meeting house and various other historical items.

Other collection-inspired family events coming up this summer at the Great North Museum: Hancock are:

August 5 - 7, Vikings on the Lawn. Meet Vikings and mingle in the Viking Village on the museum’s front lawn, with Northumbria Vikings.

August 12, Hieroglyphics, papyrus and pyramids, 11am – 3pm. Vistors can try hieroglyphics, making a Papyrus bookmark and 3D pyramids, and meet Egyptology experts.

August 13, Mummies Unwrapped, 11am, 1pm and 2pm. Discover how mummies Irtyru and Bakt en Hor came to be in the museum in family lectures that reveal their secrets and journeys from Egypt.

August 14, Scarabs, shabtis and pyramids, 11am – 3pm. Create a Scarab beetle pin, write your name in hieroglyphics and craft your own cartouche.

August 20, Hancock Museum Day, 11am- 3pm. Celebrate the 130th anniversary of the Hancock building with old friends from the Hancock Museum.

August 26 and 27, 10.30pm, 12.30pm and 2.30pm, Tiny the Stegosaurus. Travel back in time 150 million years and see the moving, growling Stegosaurus.

August 28, Dinosaur Day. Meet a T Rex and enjoy the Fossil Stories Gallery, then make a dinosaur hand puppet (11am – 3pm).

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