Conserving korowai and rāpaki at Ōtaua Marae

By Kylie Ngaropo, Manager Iwi Development, National Services Te Paerangi

In October 2012, Te Papa textile conservator Rangi Te Kanawa travelled to Ōtaua Marae, Kaikohe, to work with Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-O-Ngāpuhi and the haukāinga under the National Services Te Paerangi (NSTP) Expert Knowledge Exchange programme.  This programme provides the opportunity for an iwi, whānau, or hapū to work with an expert to assist them on a project through the sharing of knowledge, information, and skills, over a period of one to five days. 

Read about the Expert Knowledge Exchange programme

During this Expert Knowledge Exchange, Rangi worked with the haukāinga for two days to assess and advise on conservation and storage shelving for their korowai and rāpaki. The project included creating boxes to protect and display korowai and rāpaki, and devising a rotation system so that the rāpaki could be displayed then rotated with those in storage every six months. 

In a previous taonga conservation workshop, Rangi worked with the iwi and haukāinga to teach them how to create storage systems. This follow-up visit under the Expert Knowledge Exchange programme provided the opportunity to work on a specific project together at a more advanced level, so that the haukāinga can continue the mahi and care of these taonga at home in the future. The haukāinga were also successful in receiving a Helping Hands Grant from NSTP to help them purchase conservation materials needed for the project. 

The mahi started early on the first day and under the guidance of Rangi, and Matua Tau Kopa, the haukāinga worked hard across their workstations, making boxes and lids for the taonga, as well as mounts for the rāpaki to be displayed. One korowai was rolled, and the other taonga were laid in boxes, as hanging them would stress the muka and cause them to stretch. There were discussions around the wooden storage shelving, and the possibility of painting it in future with a special acetic-acid emulsion for greater protection. There was also discussion of the impact that direct natural light and changing room temperature have on the taonga. The haukāinga found some practical and innovative solutions, and after some long productive hours of mahi, they had completed – with Rangi’s assistance – boxes for three rāpaki, display mounts for four rāpaki, boxes for four cloaks and an additional cloak box lid. This is a huge achievement within a short timeframe and we acknowledge all the whānau who made this possible.

Ngā mihi nui ki a koutou katoa Te Rūnanga-Ā-Iwi-O-Ngāpuhi, me te whānau whānui o Ōtaua Marae! 

If you have a project around the care of taonga and would like more information about the Expert Knowledge Exchange programme, the Helping Hands Grant, or any of our services for iwi, hapū and whānau, contact us.

Our freephone helpline is  0508 NSTP HELP (0508 678 743).

Read about NSTP services to Maori and iwi

Expert Knowledge Exchange at Ōtaua Marae. Image courtesy of Lucy Taurua-Mason.

Left to right: Bill Ashby, Tau Kopa, Rangi Te Kanawa, Ursula Hampson, Ringa Ashby, Sophie Hokimate Rountree, Friday Rountree, Kathleen Rakete, Takapari Kopa. Image courtesy of Lucy Taurua-Mason.