If your knowledge of Maori culture stops at the All Blacks performing the haka at the start of rugby matches, you could benefit from a trip to the British Museum, which is home to an exhibition devoted entirely to the history, culture and arts of the Maori people. It tells the story of a group of people from tiny Pacific islands who colonised "The Land of the Long White Cloud" and created a unique and complex society and culture. It covers a period of fewer than 1,000 years from the time the first Polynesians arrived in New Zealand (exact date unknown) to the beginning of sustained contact with Europeans in the late-18th century The exhibition includes important early material collected during the three voyages of Captain Cook between 1768 and 1780, a collection assembled by Sir George Grey while Governor of New Zealand, as well as numerous other collections and gifts. On display are more than 500 objects, ranging from wood carvings to war canoes, weapons to cloaks, domestic implements to ornaments (including the naturalistic male figure created by the Ngati Kahungunu carvers, right). The exhibition also includes a selection of present-day objects purchased or commissioned by the museum from Maori artists, as well as lectures, events and dancing.
BMS members get in for free. For pounds 5 off subscription, call 0171-323 8605 or present this page at the Membership Desk, British Museum, Great Russell Street, WC1 to 1 Nov