I te ara taonga – Haratua 2018

By Paora Tibble, Kaiwhanake ā-Iwi │Iwi Development Adviser and Migoto Eria, Pouwhirinaki ā-Iwi│Manager Iwi Development, National Services Te Paerangi

Korihi pō, korihi ao! Tēnei te manu atarau ka rere i Te Paerangi o Te Papa Tongarewa, ka topa i runga rā, ka tau atu ki ngā tōpito o te motu, hei whakatutuki i te mana taonga i whakataukītia ai e Ngā Kaiwawao. Hui, hui, huia ngā taonga. Tui, tui, tuia ngā tāngata. Kui, kui, whiti, whiti ki te ora!

I’d like to start this journey off by acknowledging Thelma Karaitiana. She came to Te Papa as one of the Pou Tikanga for the Ko Rongowhakaata iwi exhibition.

The pou in a carved meeting house are ancestors and they’re also the pillars the hold up the spine of the building. So in the context of the iwi exhibition here at Te Papa, the pou tikanga is someone who maintains the values and practices of the Rongowhakaata iwi in the exhibition of their taonga, their art and their ancestors.

Thelma Karaitiana did a great job of representing her iwi, Rongowhakaata. This included taking the Friends of Te Papa on a personalised tour through the Ko Rongowhakaata exhibition, and being the kaikaranga and kaiwaiata for a lot of hui held here at Te Papa.

We farewelled Thelma on 29 March. People spoke of her kindness and of her lovely nurturing way. Thelma has style, she even has a pair of sunglasses the same colour as her moko kauwae.  One thing that really stood out for me is her wisdom. Read the essay that Thelma wrote for The Spinoff about the journey of the exhibition and you’ll get a sense of what I mean

Read The story of light and shadow on The Spinoff

Thelma has returned to her hometown, Gisborne. Kei te mihi ake ki a koe e te kōkā, e te uri o Tūrāhiri, kei te ripo to Te Whanganui-a-Tara, otirā, mātau Ngā Manu Atarau i wāhau nā mahi.

Service IQ Workshop: The Role of Māori in Museums

A lot of the people who work in Museums across Aotearoa are volunteers and not everyone has a museum qualification. One way, National Services Te Paerangi (NSTP) supports the sector is by facilitating or organising Service IQ New Zealand Certificate in Museum Practice workshops that help train people working in museums.

Find out more about the Service IQ New Zealand Certificate in Museum Practice

Migoto and I facilitated two The Role of Māori in Museums workshops in Auckland during April. The first one was at Tāmaki Paenga Hira│ Auckland War Memorial Museum. Those attending included staff from Te Tuhi, MOTAT and Tāmaki Paenga Hira.

Attendees at The Role of Māori in Museums workshop at Tāmaki Paenga Hira | Auckland War Memorial Museum. Photo courtesy of Paora Tibble, Te Papa

The staff at Tāmaki Paenga Hira are onto it. They’ve had staff noho marae at Manukau Institute of Technology. There’s a group of men who meet with kaumātua, Bobby Newson on a weekly basis to learn, then develop their capability and capacity to carry tikanga in a museum context.

Group discussion during The Role of Māori in Museums workshop at Tāmaki Paenga Hira | Auckland War Memorial Museum. Photo courtesy of Paora Tibble, Te Papa

In one part of the workshop, we talk about the history of our country. One of our participants was present at Bastion Point, 40 years ago, when the Police arrested and removed Ngāti Whātua and their supporters. Another participant shared about how the ’81 Springboks tour split her family apart. These types of conversations give our work context and meaning.

I was fortunate enough to also catch up with Robert (Bobby) Newson at the Auckland War Memorial Museum during my time up in Auckland. His role is Tumu Here Iwi │Iwi Relationships Manager where he works in the area of repatriation, returning ancestral remains to the iwi from which they were taken, bought, stolen or traded even.

Paora Tibble and Bobby Newson. Photo courtesy of Paora Tibble, Te Papa

Matua Bobby took me throughout the museum. We talked about the wall commemorating those men who died serving overseas in Malaya, in Vietnam and in other engagements since and, drawing on my previous role of translator here at Te Papa, we discussed commemorating the soldiers who didn’t come back home in te reo Māori.

Matua Bobby had served in Vietnam and there were names on the wall that he knew personally. His role there at the Auckland War Memorial Museum has given him an opportunity to acknowledge his fallen brothers in arms on the wall of that pātaka iringa kōrero.

The second workshop we facilitated was at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery in Titirangi. The gallery serves the West Auckland region, and as the director, Andrew Clifford acknowledged in his mihi, the name Te Uru refers to Te Hau a Uru, the wind from the West, a significant reference to the local iwi Te Kawerau a Maki. Ō mātou mihi ki a Matua Bobby for supporting us and his role as tangata whenua at this workshop as well.

There was a wide range of kaimahi that attended this workshop, curators, designers, front of house, education but also kaimahi from Te Tuhi in the Ngāi Tai rohe, Pakuranga. We also had representation from staff of the Wallace Arts Trust who are situated in the Pah Homestead in Hillsborough.

Attendees at The Role of Māori in Museums workshop at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery. Photographer Migoto Eria, Te Papa

There were some key differences to the discussion at this workshop because of the contemporary gallery, rather than museum, setting.

Some of the kōrero and pātai that came out of our hui included:

  • How do we naturally integrate tikanga into our work?
  • What is tikanga Māori in a contemporary art environment?
  • Biculturalism in a gallery setting
  • Conflicts of tikanga

We discussed at length the two terms Toi and Taonga, their individual meanings and also their similarities in this environment.

So, what’s the place of tikanga Māori in a contemporary gallery that doesn’t actually exhibit taonga Māori? It’s something for us to ponder.

Nathan Pohio at Tuahiwi Marae. Photo by Paora Tibble, Te Papa

In late May I was in Te Puna o Waiwhetū, Christchurch Art Gallery, listening to Nathan Pohio talk about an exhibition he curated, He Rau Maharataka Whenua: A Memory of Land. When you’ve only got a few Māori artworks, let alone, Ngāi Tahu artworks, how do you tell a Ngāi Tahu story?

Well, one way to do it is to use landscape paintings of your whenua to tell the story you want to tell.

Find out more about Te Puna o Waiwhetū at the Christchurch Art Gallery

Iwi Workshop: Waikato-Tainui

Also in April, conservators Rangi Te Kanawa and Vicki-Anne Heikell facilitated a taonga preservation workshop at Waikato-Tainui Endowment College, Hopuhopu, Ngāruawāhia. There we worked in partnership with Charles Willison, Waikato Matthews and the Waikato-Tainui Archives team.

Waikato-Tainui workshop attendees. Photo courtesy of Paora Tibble, Te Papa

This workshop enabled local whanau to learn about best practice for the care of taonga and to create storage systems for their taonga.

Find out more about our taonga conservation workshops

Here’s a few pics from the workshop:






Hands on demonstrations of storage systems. Photos courtesy of Paora Tibble, Te Papa

These workshops are an excellent way for us to connect with iwi, hapū, whanau and kaitiaki taonga at a grassroots level. The vision for Charles Willison and the Waikato-Tainui Archival team is hold annual workshops for the hapū and iwi of the Waikato rohe. We’ll work together to make this vision a reality.

 Look at all those beautifully packed taonga! Photo courtesy of Paora Tibble, Te Papa

One way for institutions to connect with iwi, hapū and whānau is to give them access to their taonga. Another way is to allow the staff with whakapapa to connect with their iwi.

Quite often when I’m on the road, on a marae or working with our people, I’ll realise, or they’ll remind me: “So and so at such and such gallery, they are from here.” Taking our staff beyond the walls of our institutions opens us to limitless possibility.