I've got a slightly different take on the Te Papa exhibition issue from Deborah.
I want to start by noting how unclear the media articles from The Herald and Stuff are, for example one says it is about protecting the women concerned and the other about protecting the taonga. It could of course be both. I'd really value an article that explored that aspect more, because it hasn't been explained very well to date. Sadly this is often my observation of reporting on matters of tikanga.
It's also worth considering that the Angry Feminists Are Angry Grrrr! angle has been sought by the media. I don't recall seeing any feminist bloggers writing about this issue at all, prior to media contact seeking quotes from said feminist bloggers. Make of that what you will.
But back to the issue at hand.
Te Papa seems to be caught in a bit of a catch 22. On one hand they have been leant some taonga to exhibit which have come caveats around exhibition which they have agreed to respect. On the other hand, as both Deborah and Boganette point out, Te Papa is a state institution, and no state institution should be restricting access based on reproductive status.
It would seem to me there might be a way to perhaps try to meet both needs. When I went to the Pompeii exhibition they had on display those scary ash casts - people, and a dog, who had died in the eruption of Mt Vesuvius and their remains effectively preserved by the ash that fell on the town. This portion of the exhibition was slightly separated from the rest. Signs were up, warning of the presence of human remains in that part of the exhibition, and iirc there were warnings on the ticket or maybe when you came in. There was also a bowl for washing your hands of the tapu afterwards. It did sound from the email like there were four parts to the exhibition and only one of them had taonga in it?
Couldn't Te Papa consider something similar for this? I don't know if that is realistic, because I don't have enough understanding of the tikanga. I'd appreciate comments that would help me with that.
My partner challenged me to think about how I would feel about this situation if it was conservative white men who were insisting on this rather than Maori. And he's right - as Deborah says, it should be a case of either not restricting access for certain people, or removing the problematic taonga from exhibition, or not doing the exhibition at all.
But if some kind of compromise can be reached then that seems to me ideal - respect for everyone, rather than having to choose.
Apologies for any typos and for the lack of links, I am writing this from somewhere I can't do those (iPod), but hope to be able to come back and edit. I also can't write comments from the iPod, at all.