Diary of an intern – Christen McAlpine

By Christen McAlpine, Intern, National Services Te Paerangi

In January 2013 I started my three month internship with National Services Te Paerangi at Te Papa Tongarewa. This internship is offered through National Services’ Museum Graduate Internship Programme. My internship project is to revise the He Rauemi Resource Guide ‘Caring for Māori Textiles (Tiakitanga o te Kahu Āku)’ with the help of Te Papa Textile Conservator Rangi Te Kanawa. This is a great opportunity for me as I am new to the museum field, having come from a background in archaeology, and it gives me the opportunity to view the inner workings and processes of a museum.

Inside a business office, 1924 - 1965. Maker unknown. Te Papa
Inside a business office, 1924 - 1965. Maker unknown. Te Papa

My journey at Te Papa started with a warm welcome from both the National Services team and the wider Ngā Manu Atarau directorate. During my time here I have been lucky to be able to undertake tours of the International History and New Zealand Social History stores and the Natural Environment stores; been able to explore Te Papa’s exhibits with the other National Services interns through tours (both guided and self-guided); and, been able to witness how the Education team engages children of all ages with the Museum.

Currently I am just over halfway through my internship and am, happily, at the same stage in the revision of the Māori textiles resource guide. The text is mostly finished and, after a final check, is ready to go out to peer-review. The images and diagrams for the guide are in various stages of readiness – if only it was as simple as selecting a nice picture and being able to put it in. Instead the images have to undergo copyright and iwi clearances before they can be considered for inclusion. Half the images for the resource guide have been through this process and have been approved for use (and include images of some wonderful taonga, such as this kete kiwi and a kahu kurī).

Collections Online has been a huge help in some of my tasks with National Services Te Paerangi, both for choosing images of Māori textiles taonga for the resource guide, and in giving the National Services website a bit of beautification. The National Services website now features images on all its pages, the majority of which come from Te Papa Tongarewa’s collection (some of my favourite images include this and this). I hope you will all take the opportunity to explore and enjoy the images.

Other tasks I have undertaken with National Services have allowed me to increase my knowledge and skill base. That’s the brief view of my journey at Te Papa Tongarewa, so far look out for the complete resource guide in mid-April and another blog from me around the same time.