The historic Treaty House at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds has re-opened its doors to the public with a new exhibition installed by Workshop e, New Zealand’s leading exhibition design company and creators of the permanent exhibition in multiple award winning Te Kōngahu Museum of Waitangi.
Greg McManus, CEO of the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, says the upgrade of the Treaty House is the latest stage of an ongoing project to develop a world class visitor experience at the Treaty Grounds. “The Treaty House, or Busby House as it is sometimes known, was the site of some of the most important events in our nation’s history. The first flag for the nation was chosen there in 1834; the 1835 Declaration of Independence was drafted by Busby and presented to the northern chiefs there; and, of course, the Treaty of Waitangi was given its finishing touches there before being read to the chiefs on 5th February 1840. It is central to our story as a nation and deserves to be looked after and interpreted well.”
The parlour where the finishing touches were made to the Treaty explores Busby’s influence on the English version and his final touches to Williams’ Māori version, Te Tiriti. Large quotes and a central audio-visual table inspires visitors to think about the momentous events that took place in the room. The room is set with a selection of furniture that encourages people to make themselves comfortable, listen to the audio, take in the flagpole view outside and visualise the scene leading up to the meeting with the chiefs on 5th February 1840, and the signing of the Treaty the following day.
Two rooms are dedicated to the family story and what life must have been like for Agnes, James, their four children and other members of the household in what was essentially an embassy as well as a family home.
These spaces explore daily life, the good and the bad, for a cross-generational audience, allowing visitors and in particular families to contemplate how things would have been. Visitors will be encouraged to enter the rooms and explore the spaces and stories they tell.
Throughout the Treaty House windows have been re-opened to let in natural light and allow visitors to enjoy the surrounding views of the gardens, Whare Rūnanga, the flagpole and the Bay of Islands.