Digital photography for iwi, Tauranga

In September 2015, National Services Te Paerangi worked in collaboration with Ngā Mataapuna Oranga in Tauranga Moana to deliver a digital photography workshop for iwi throughout the region. Representatives from 13 iwi attended who were working on a range of projects – digitising photographs in their wharenui, developing photography skills for blogs, developing whakapapa booklets, digitising and archiving marae photographs and documents, and trialling new techniques for marae kaupapa promotional material.

The objective of these workshops is to provide iwi with skills to take good quality digital images of tupuna, whānau and taonga as an archive for future storage, or as part of current iwi, whānau and hapu projects.  Te Papa Imaging Manager,  Michael Hall, led the workshop, supported by Iwi Development Officer, Gavin Reedy.

Workshop participant, Alby Bott shares his experience at the workshop:

To be honest I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the workshop. I knew that it was a great opportunity being run by Te Papa but I had a camera on my phone and a  flatbed scanner, what more did I need to know about digitising?

One by one my fellow students filed in clutching their cameras, a class covering many iwi with a broad background. We had a variety of participants attend, ranging from a professional photographer, people that are in the process of digitising taonga for a museum, and those with instructions from Aunty to attend on behalf of the whānau.


Tauranga Moana workshop participants

Gavin started by showing us the amazing things that have already been achieved by his team and explained how this awesome kaupapa had already enriched many marae, iwi and whānau across the country. It then became apparent that I was in for more than I bargained.

It was a privilege to have Michael come to Tauranga, bringing with him his equipment, the tricks of his trade, and the patience to impart some of those tricks onto us. He was a great teacher – his style of teaching with less theory and more practical worked very well with the class and everyone was thoroughly engaged throughout.

Our two-day workshop was one filled with many ‘wow’ moments. Michael would adjust the tungsten lights, make some tweaks to the camera and with a click of his mouse an amazing image would appear on the projector’s screen, filling the room with a unified ‘wow’. It is truly amazing to see what can be achieved with some simple tools and a bit of know-how.

I know that I am not alone when I say that it was a great and inspiring workshop. The biggest lesson that I took away was that digitising and photographing our taonga is not just about preservation, but is also about revealing the beauty and mana that may have been forgotten.