I te Ara Taonga | On the road – Huitanguru│February 2020

Nā Paora Tibble, Kaiwhanake ā-Iwi │Iwi Development Adviser

Korihi pō, korihi ao!
Ko ngā manu atarau e tau ana ki te paerangi o Te Hono ki Hawaiki
Kia tū ai te ihi, te wehi, te wana me te mana taonga e tū watawata mai nei ki Te Papa Tongarewa!
Tau mai rā taku Manukura! E te uri o Te Hiku o Te Ika!
Rā kē te kōrero a Kīngi Tāwhiao,
“He tau pai te tau, he tau ora te tau, he tau ngehe te tau, he tau nō te wahine.
Rapua te purapura e ora ai te iwi!”

Carolyn Roberts-Thompson, Director Ngā Manu Atarau, Te Papa. Photo Te Papa

These words are an acknowledgement of Carolyn Roberts-Thompson, the new Director of Ngā Manu Atarau, which my team, National Services Te Paerangi (NSTP), is part of at Te Papa.

A descendant of iwi of the Far North, Carolyn has worked in Te Papa and the Dominion Museum since the 90s. She has worked in numerous roles here in the National Museum, ranging from the café, project management in various exhibitions, to educator, and most recently, Head of Iwi Relationships, before her present role as Director of Ngā Manu Atarau.

I quote a well known tongi (prophetic saying) of King Tāwhiao, which states, “The year is good, the year is peaceful, a year full of promise, it is the year of women. A time for peace and growth. Seek therefore the seeds which will bring forth the greatest good for all people.”

Alongside Carolyn, Te Papa has a new Chief Executive, Courtney Johnson. I was at Te Papa back in mid-February and it felt like there was an optimism, a wairua flowing through that space with these new leaders in place.

(l-r) Kaitohutohu Kōiwi Tangata | Repatriation Programme Coordinator, Te Arikirangi Mamaku with Carolyn Roberts-Thompson, Courtney Johnston enroute to
Rekohu, 2020. Photo Te Arikirangi Mamaku Te Papa.

Tongi like the one above, give us something to think about. There are expectations inherent in these words of wisdom. There’s a vision for now and into the future. How can we bring forth the greatest good for all people through taonga? For me as an Iwi Development Adviser, the answer to this question requires us to listen, to work and engage with communities in the care of their taonga.

Ngā Manu Atarau Directorate gathered in mid-February, 2020. Te Papa

As well as NSTP, two other teams sit within the Ngā Manu Atarau Directorate: Iwi Relationships, a team which develops, maintains and nurtures the relationships between Te Papa, iwi, hapū, whānau and kaitiaki of taonga; and Karanga Aotearoa, which undertakes the return of ancestral remains of Māori and Moriori from institutions such as museums, universities, hospitals throughout the world. There’s a lot of crossover in the mahi our teams each support, and it was great to catch up as a directorate with our new Director.

Southland visits

On my way to Invercargill for a workshop on The Role of Māori in Museums in late February, I spent a few days in Gore, a week after the heavy flooding in the district.

A big thanks to Project Ark Project Lead David Luoni and his wife, Catherine for hosting me while I was in the area.

David Luoni and I, outside the Mataura Museum. Photo courtesy of Paora Tibble, Te Papa

With Programmes Officer Marcella Geddes and District Curator Jim Geddes outside the Eastern Southland Gallery, Gore. Photo courtesy of Paora Tibble, Te Papa

David took me to the Wyndham Town and Country Club, where I met the team of volunteers and interns working on Project Ark.

Read more about Project Ark in Judith Taylor’s On the Road in the South Island – August 2018 post

We also visited the Mataura Museum, where I watched a video clip of Noel Raihania from Tokomaru Bay. Noel was a World War Two veteran and a respected pakeke (elder) on the East Coast. He spoke of the time that he spent in Mataura working and running shearing gangs. Whole families from the eastern seaboard of the North Island migrated to Southland for work.   

I also met with Jim Geddes at the Eastern Southland Gallery in Gore. What you get from Jim is a real sense of connection to the community.

Speaking of community, it was a real privilege to meet Mairi Dickson, along with Southland’s Roving Museum Officer Johannah Massey  at the Switzers Museum in Waikaia. Mairi is a fundraiser, she drives the local school bus and the morning I arrived, she’d just finished round up the sheep on the farm. In May, she’ll be receiving an OBE for services to the community.

With Johannah Massey and Mairi Dickson at Switzers Musuem in Waikaia. Photo courtesy of Paora Tibble, Te Papa

Below is a group shot of participants from the Role of Māori in Musuems workshop in Invercargill I facilitated with NSTP Iwi Development Manager Migoto Eria. We were fortunate to have Rāniera Dallas from the Oraka-Aparima Runaka to give a tangata whenua perspective of the role that Māori have to play in museums throughout Southland. Also in attendance was Toni Biddle, Deputy Mayor of Invercargill. Big thanks to all who attended.


TRole of Māori in Musuems workshop participants in Invercargill, 2020. Photo supplied

Finally, I must acknowledge Piri Sciascia, who passed away last month.

Read a tribute to Piri Sciascia on the Te Papa blog

It was Piri who coined the whakataukī, He toi whakairo, he mana tangata. Where there is artistic excellence, there is human dignity. One of the many talents that Piri had was his ability to inspire people.

Quite often Piri was asked to say karakia at exhibition openings. Before chanting the karakia at one occasion, he shared the meaning and the purpose of karakia, taking us to a place beyond the ordinary, a sacred space where we could be silent, where we could acknowledge that special moment gathered there with other people, amongst the taonga. He had a way of lifting the mood, the spirit of a room.

Piri speaking at the 30 years celebration of the Te Maori exhibition, 2014. Photo by Jean-Claude Stahl. Te Papa (31402)

E Piri, ko koe te whakatutukitanga o te mana taonga, nā te momo pēnā i a koe nā i kitea, i rangona te mana taonga e kōrerohia mai nei e te tini, e te mano, e te iti me te rahi. Tē kite atu au e hika, i te utautatanga o tōhou tere. Waiho te iwi tieki taonga e mae noa nei mōhou e …

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