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Ministry of Education.

The National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand are pleased to announce the opening of He Tohu.

The National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand are pleased to announce the opening of He Tohu.

The National Library of New Zealand and Archives New Zealand are pleased to bring a fantastic new learning experience for New Zealand’s young people with the opening of He Tohu.


He Tohu is a new permanent Wellington-based exhibition of three iconic constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa New Zealand.  It lives at the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa in a stunning new state-of-the-art conservation space, designed to preserve the documents for generations to come.


The three documents housed in He Tohu are:


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


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


What is He Tohu?


The He Tohu exhibition has 3 objectives:

  • Preserve our fragile and irreplaceable documentary heritage for future generations.
  • Improve access to these taonga for all New Zealanders and visitors to our country.  Entry is free.
  • Enhance learning opportunities for young New Zealanders.


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.


Learning Experiences and Online Learning Resources


He Tohu provides learning experiences and online resources that focus on both the history of the documents and on their relevance to contemporary issues. The English medium resources use a social inquiry approach to understand some of the factors that shape how we live together, organise society and navigate social forces in Aotearoa New Zealand. The Māori medium resources use a cultural narrative approach to capture rich local content and experiences for the students and their community.


Schools can make bookings for on-site learning experiences, or for schools that cannot make it to the Wellington exhibition our new curriculum based online resources are a fantastic way to support learning in the classroom around the contemporary issues surrounding the three documents.


For more information please click on the following links:


Other National Library Services to Schools Resources


Existing National Library Services to Schools online services already have He Tohu related resources available to support teachers and students, with more resources in development and due to be released over the coming months. 


Resources available now in  Topic Explorer include:


We also have Many Answers entries for the  Treaty of WaitangiWomen's suffrage (New Zealand), and  Declaration of Independence (New Zealand)



We are excited to bring He Tohu and these new learning resources to schools across Aotearoa.  If you have any questions please contact our library support team on 0800 LIBLINE (542 5463) or by emailing: servicestoschools@dia.govt.nz. 

Published on: 07 Jun 2017


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