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Cloak of Protection

Episode:71Te Papa Collection:Taonga Māori

Suggested curriculum levels:2 – 6

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, Social Sciences: Identity, Culture, and Organisation Continuity and Change

Description:Find out how a cloak saved the life of a young boy in colonial New Zealand.

Questions for students

  1. What is a bodyguard? Who might have one, and why?
  2. Re-tell the story of Thomas and his escape from death in your own words. Who saved him? How?
  3. Imagine what life was like in Wellington in 1840 for a 13-year-old orphan, newly arrived from England. What physical, emotional and cultural challenges might he face? What would be the significance of having a Māori kuia as his protector?
  4. Discuss the three aspects of tikanga that are central to this Tale: a tapu building site; the threat of death for breaching tapu; and the protection given by the kuia. What modern-day parallels or connections can you make to these?
  5. The presenter says the cloak and the mere are associated with the settlement of Wellington. If the chief had killed young Thomas, would the history of settlement be different? Use the 'Ideas' response template to plan a story, play or short film with a different outcome.

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