China to lend Chairman Mao's Maori cloak

10:31 pm on 11 April 2013

A Maori cloak given to China's leader Mao Zedong in 1957 is to be temporarily returned to New Zealand.

The announcement was made by Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples who is with Prime Minister John Key on a trade mission in China.

The feather cloak (kakahu huruhuru) was given to Chairman Mao by New Zealand film-maker Ramai Te Miha Hayward on behalf of the fifth Maori King, Koroki, as a gift of goodwill to the Chinese leaders.

Mr Hayward was part of a small delegation of the New Zealand China Friendship Society, which also included the poet Ron Mason.

In 2004, New Zealand ambassador John McKinnon searched for the cloak and found it stored in the National Museum of China in Beijing with other foreign gifts.

The cloak will be displayed in Wellington at the national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, from 13 June to 20 October.

It was handed over at an event at the National Museum of China hosted by Vice-Premier Liu Yandong, who spoke about how special the cloak was as it was gifted at a time when there was much suspicion about China.