Kōkiri 31 – Ahuwhenua Trophy Cup ... Can you help us

Published in Kōkiri 31, Huitanguru 2015

The Ahuwhenua Cup has a prestigious and colourful history dating back to its original commissioning in 1932.

The famous artist CF Goldie designed the Trophy Cup and Mr William Wright, a sculptor at the Auckland School of Art was responsible for moulding and making it. Mr Tai Mitchell of Rotorua was responsible for its historical accuracy.

In 1933 the cup was presented by Lord Bledisloe to the first winner, William Swinton of Raukokore.

At the time Mr Tai Mitchell on behalf of Te Arawa Trust Board suggested after the ceremony, that the cup be sent to the Auckland War Memorial for safety and to avoid discolouration caused by sulphur fumes in the area.

Presumably it stayed in the Māori section of the Museum until the award was revived again in 1936, and was won by Mr Henry Dewes, a sheep farmer from Tikitiki. Then in 1937 the cup was lost in a fire that destroyed the Waiapu store where the cup was on display. It was replaced with a new cup in 1938.

And this is where the mystery deepens.

In 1943 the cup was lost on a rail trip from Rotorua to Wellington. The search for it involved the Railways, the Department of Māori Affairs, the Police and even the Army, because the missing case apparently resembled an ammunition box.

Fortunately it was found three years later in a Frankton store after being mislaid with someone’s personal belongings at the railway station.

Te Puni Kōkiri is seeking details of the 1943 search for the Trophy Cup and its subsequent discovery in 1946 in a Frankton Store. What happened during the original search? Who discovered it? And how did it come to be in a Frankton store with someone’s personal belongings?

If you or anyone you know can help us fill in the blanks of this mystery we would love to hear from you. You can email us on kokiri@tpk.govt.nz

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