Kanoa Lloyd cries in emotional homecoming at Chicago marae

What started as an interesting little news story ended up having a much deeper meaning for The Project host Kanoa Lloyd.

She flew to Chicago to visit a marae that has been a part of the Chicago Field Museum since 1925 - and it's a marae deeply intertwined with her whānau.

It comes from Tokomaru Bay, and so does she. Originally built in 1881, a Pākehā came to Tokomaru Bay, saw the house and made an offer. 

A curator from the Field museum saw it in Germany in 1902, and bought it. The marae has stood in the Chicago museum since 1925.

Upon seeing the marae, Lloyd welled up with emotion.

"I knew I would cry... I don't even know why I'm so emotional. It's just really beautiful," she said through tears.

"The idea of people using it, and visiting it, and loving it - is pretty choice,"

But the experience was bittersweet.

"I feel a bit bad that I don't know more about this place, I don't understand who these people are, who made it," she said.

"I feel like I'm meant to automatically know that in order to earn my Māori card.

"I compare it to looking at a tiger in the zoo and thinking 'what a beautiful tiger' - and the zoo can do all the things so it looks like it's living in this beautiful atmosphere, but it's still a wild animal in an enclosure."

Watch the full story above.