WellingtonSee & Do
Entrance to He Tohu at The National Library of New Zealand.

He Tohu at National Library of New Zealand

Opposite New Zealand Parliament buildings stands the National Library Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa. In it lies He Tohu — a permanent exhibition and home to some of New Zealand’s most important documents.

Visitors can enter He Tohu for free, and view three constitutional documents that shape Aotearoa.

, signed in 1840, is the founding agreement between Māori and the Crown. The treaty has often been hotly debated, and at times ignored or broken, but it remains a source of hope and optimism for Aotearoa’s future. It is displayed facing toward the doors of parliament across the road, to constantly challenge its agreement.

He Tohu is also home to the 1893 Women’s Suffrage Petition, Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine. This document led to New Zealand becoming the first country in the world where all women gained the right to vote in general elections.

Students crowding around an exhibition at The National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

It’s also where you can view the He Whakaputanga — Declaration of Independence. This hugely important document was how told the world in 1835 that New Zealand was an independent Māori nation.

Under the care of Archives New Zealand, these are kept in . The hand-crafted room is designed to protect and enhance the of the precious documents it holds. Inspired by traditional Māori , the exterior is made from native New Zealand rimu wood.

He Tohu features interactive exhibits which give visitors a chance to learn more about the history surrounding these documents. Search the Treaty of Waitangi for your signature. Listen to stories from some of the more than 32,000 women who signed the suffrage petition, representing almost a quarter of all adult women in the country at the time.

Entry is free and there are audio and guided tours available on request.