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24 September 2003

Sacred items belonging to Maori leader Hone Heke arrive in Canberra this week, the first of many international deliveries for the upcoming National Museum of Australia exhibition, Outlawed! The World's Rebels, Revolutionaries and Bushrangers, presented by Lockwood.

This is the first time the warrior chief's ceremonial objects have left New Zealand, where their travel has attracted controversy because they were used to kill Maoris and Europeans.

'People in Australia and New Zealand have the right to see these historically important artefacts,' Hone Heke descendant and Maori leader David Rankin said. 'To prevent them from being exhibited would be a challenge to free speech.'

Hone Heke famously chopped down British flagpoles as he waged war against colonial rule in the 1840s.

The warrior led a long battle against the British, which ended without Heke losing a single battle and neither side able to claim absolute victory. He escaped penalty as his adversaries did not want to provoke tension in the region.

Hone Heke's fighting club, adzes and his flag, arrive in Canberra this week. Mr Rankin is accompanying the items from New Zealand and will assist the National Museum conservators and curators on handling the sacred objects.

WHEN: 11am, Thursday, 25 September

WHERE: Loading Dock 1, National Museum, Acton

The shipment also includes British cannon balls and muskets and paintings of Hone Heke, his family and battles.

Outlawed! is the first major exhibition to investigate the world's most famous outlaws and opens at the National Museum on 27 November, before travelling to Melbourne and Brisbane.

The exhibition includes 500 objects sourced from nine countries, telling the stories of outlaws from Ned Kelly, Ben Hall and the Clarke Brothers to Japan's Ishikawa Goemon, America's Jesse James, Italy's Salvatore Guiliano and England's Robin Hood.

For more information please contact Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or email

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