Home News Caring for kete at Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum

Caring for kete at Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum

Collaboration within the museum sector

by Sharon Henderson, Custodian, Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum

Our collaboration with National Services Te Paerangi (NSTP) started when we applied to the Expert Knowledge Exchange programme. We needed advice on the handling and conservation of the delicate Maori textiles within our collection. This included condition reporting, surface cleaning, re-displaying and storing our treasured kete and cloaks.  Rangi Te Kanawa, Textile Conservator, and Kararaina Te Ira, trainee textile conservator, were flown down from Wellington for a week to help and advise us on the best way to care for and display our kete collection.        

Kete collection as displayed since 1977. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.Kete collection as displayed since 1977. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.

An application was put in for a Helping Hands Grant to buy materials needed for the project, and Judith Taylor, Museum Development Officer – South Island, NSTP, advised us on the items we would need to purchase and materials that could be supplied by NSTP.  The support and advice we received from Judith and Emma Philpott, Sector Training Co-ordinator, NSTP, was really fantastic and it took an awful lot of organising to make sure all the necessary supplies were in Okains Bay when our experts arrived. 

After consultation with Murray Thacker, our Director, the kete were removed, and Rangi did a condition report on each one.

Condition reporting on kete. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.

Condition reporting on kete. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.

The condition report included a full description, size and condition of the kete, accompanied by photos.  Then the kete were carefully surface cleaned, and we learnt  how to make interior padding supports and display supports for the handles.
 
Next we had to decide which kete would go back on display.  New supports were made to take the stress off the handles.

Kete with interior padding and display supports. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.

To display the kete, black fabric was used as a backdrop, to accentuate the intricate weaving and different fibres of the kete.

Installation. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.Installation. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.

 

Kete display before labels. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.

We also learned to make custom storage boxes for the remaining kete.  Rangi suggested the kete be rotated regularly, to avoid further light damage.  The week flew, and unfortunately we did not have time to finish the labels. Rangi did this from Wellington, and we printed them and completed the display the following week.  Rangi also submitted a full report to our Trust Board about the condition of our collection in the Whare Taonga, and her recommendations.

Our experience was a truly memorable one, and Michelle and I learnt so much from Rangi and Kararaina in one week.  We enjoyed working with such professionals! And it was an honour to work with these beautiful taonga!  We are really grateful for the support and training from National Services Te Paerangi, Judith Taylor, Emma Philpott, Rangi and Kararaina, and hope it will be an ongoing collaboration for all of us.  Of course, this is just the beginning, as we have to continue this work with the rest of the collection.

Finished display. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.

Finished wall in display case. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.

 

Image credits:
1. Kete collection as displayed since 1977. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.
2. Kete collection as displayed since 1977. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.
3. Condition reporting on kete. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.
4. Condition reporting on kete. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.
5. Kete with interior padding and display supports. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.
6. Installation. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.
7. Installation. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.
8. Kete display before labels. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.
9. Finished display. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.
10. Finished display in wall case. Image courtesy of Okains Bay Maori & Colonial Museum.

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