He Tangata – The Project

‘People are the Most Important Thing in the World’

TOTI’s project He Tangata arises from the widely known whakatauki that ‘people are the most important thing in the world

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata’.

Telling the Stories of our History-Makers

Our underpinning objective is ‘Telling the Stories’ of our history-makers, people important to the crafting of our contemporary society and culture. He Tangata will tell of people, their connections with places and times, illustrating significant economic, social and ecological issues, using a range of public-engagement tools, presenting and reinstating heritage & culture, restoring visibility. Locational narratives, for the future; the first to mark the cluster of significant anniversaries 2013-2018.

He Tangata is about real people, real stories, with specific site connections and story depth.

He Tangata
storytelling artistry may include:

  • Place-naming, sculptures, water features, & other physical constructs
  • Exhibitions, lectures, debates, community discussions, articles & publications
  • Biographical re-enactments & docu-dramas, scripted, performed, filmed, digitally distributed
  • Archival records – research, additions, amendments & corrections, digitised

Bringing back our Heritage

He Tangata reiterates our heritage, brings it back into public gathering places & projects awareness for the future, making history-makers & heroes visible.

  • Real people
  • Epic chapters from our past
  • Spatial/site specific – within the CBD and along the Waikato River
  • Merging history, heritage & artistry for the future
  • Ongoing opportunities for public participation & engagement, & Tangata Whenua input
  • Telling & Sharing Our Stories
  • Digital technology for a 21st century framework


He Tangata projects will be individually funded & proceed as funds allow.


History-makers, significant characters from the past, people who left their mark, celebrities good & bad.
Our initial focus:

  • To mark the events of 1863-64 – the 19th Century birth-time of our era,
    WWI and WW2 – for the 20th Century,
    the 21st Century – ahead of us,
    and the Tainui era – behind us
  • To add to our sense of history and heritage
  • To remind us of history’s great conflicts, and the continuing ‘promise of future prosperity’ in this ‘Waikato Basin of unrivalled fertility’ (from Peter Gibbons’ Astride the River A History of Hamilton 1977)
  • To reflect significant social, cultural, ecological, and economic issues

Our short-list emerged from almost a hundred initial prospects, drawn up with the assistance of Waikato historians & Heritage Lovers. And we allowed the idea of others emerging.


Ancient Leader of the Tainui Waka migration & settlement throughout Waikato (circa 14th century), an heroic & anointed noble woman of great mana and significance.


Architects of the Waikato War

Thomas Russell, Frederick Whitaker & Co
‘The Insiders’
These men went on to control hundreds of thousands of hectares in the Waikato hinterland, Hamilton investments, local Parliamentary seats & council.

Architects of the Waikato War

Sapper Horace Moore-Jones (1868-1922)

‘We Shall Remember’
Soldier, artist & teacher whose WWI Gallipoli Campaign painting ‘Man with the Donkey’ is the enduring Anzac image. His life and heroic death in Hamilton largely an untold story.

Sapper Horace Moore-Jones

war-horseWar Horse

WW1 War Horse Memorial
Military artist Hon Captain Matt Gauldie’s riderless war horse sensing the 4th Waikato Mounted trooper’s hat has been chosen as the favoured concept for the life-size statue.

War Horse

Dame Hilda Ross (1883-1959)

‘For the Children’
‘Mother of NZ’ pioneering politician who tackled the hard issues with hands-on and unremitting efforts, focusing particularly on children. She left her mark locally and nationally on most aspects of NZ society and culture.

Dame Hilda Ross

Louis Armstrong

‘Jazz King’
Celebrating a half century since Louis Armstrong’s sell-out concerts in Hamilton’s Founders Theatre in 1963. Armstrong is regarded as one of the 20th century’s great entertainers.

Louis Armstrong