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Face of the Māori world on display for Australians as Ta Moko exhibition opens

Australians are getting an insight into Māori traditions and history with the opening of an exhibition at Canberra's National Gallery. 

Ta Moko reveals several hidden treasures that tell some unique stories. 

The opening of the exhibition has put the face of the Māori world on display in the heart of Australia's capital city. 

"It's one of the places that I will be bringing New Zealanders to because they would not have seen this in New Zealand," said Dame Annette King, High Commissioner to Australia.

A carving of the face of the famous 19th century warrior Hongi Hika is displayed in the exhibition.. 

He carved it himself on his first trip to Sydney in 1814 and there are just three in the world like it.

It's described as a quantum leap in the world of Māori carving.

"I do not know about any tradition of self-portraiture prior to this time. He had literally stepped into a different universe by coming to the early colonial settlements of Sydney. He probably had that liberation like Picasso with his step into cubism and modernism," said Crispin Howarth of the National Gallery of Australia.

Inside a precious book are the drawings of a European settler, the first to accurately depict the facial markings on Māori. 

Before, they had been mostly a scribble. 

"The reason I chose this one is because Temia is noted on the back of this particular work as saying this is the best likeness of his moko," Mr Howarth said of one drawing in the book.

Many of the pieces came from a collection in London, others are unique to Te Ao Māori in Australia, spanning over 250 years of history.

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The exhibition has opened at Canberra's National Gallery and reveals several hidden treasures that tell unique stories. Source: 1 NEWS