In the beginning there was Te Kore, the nothing, followed by Te Pō, the long night… Finally, came the light, ki te whei ao, ki Te Ao Mārama!
Four years ago, Cliff Whiting (1936-2017) shared this story, while Norm Heke filmed us, in his home in Russell. It’s the Māori Genesis that he manifested as his life philosophy, his artistic process. Joseph Campbell said ‘Myth lets you know where you are across the ages of life, at 40 or at 80 …’
The house that Cliff built, Te Hono ki Hawaiki. Photo by Norm Heke, Te Papa
On 16 July this year Cliff Whiting passed away. He was a husband, a father, an artist, a carver, an innovator, a leader, and he was also the first Kaihautū here at Te Papa. Read Ian Christensen’s biography, Cliff Whiting: He Toi Nuku, He Toi Rangi, for more about the contribution that he made to the story, to the art, and to the myth of our country.
Cliff at work in his studio, Kororāreka (Russell). Photo by Norm Heke, Te Papa
Kei te kaihautū nāhau tēnei waka kawe taonga i ū ai ki uta. Kei te uri o Kaiāio, kotahi tō toi rākau ki te Motu, he mano, he mano, he mano! Kei te pāpa, Cliff, hoatu ki a Heather mā, ki te iwi nui kei te pō e whanga mai rā mōhou.
There has been a lot happening both in Wellington and across the country since my last post in May. Read on for some of my highlights:
Rongowhakaata Pōhiri, Te Papa
On the morning of 11 June, the Rongowhakaata tribe (from Gisborne) brought their taonga to Te Papa in preparation for their iwi exhibition which opens here on 29 September. It’s a form of engagement with iwi that you don’t see every day.
Taonga waiting to be carried up Te Ara a Hine. Photo courtesy of Eloise Wallace, Tairawhiti Museum
Taonga puoro heralded the arrival, karanga sounded across the void, karakia chanted, tears flowed, whaikōrero delivered, and the marae was alive with mōteatea. The taonga, the tīpuna of Rongowhakaata came onto Rongomaraeroa (the marae of Te Papa) and laid to rest on the mahau of Te Hono ki Hawaiki. On their way to be stored, the taonga spent time in front of Te Hau ki Tūranga.
(l) Taonga, tīpuna and uri of Rongowhakaata on the mahau of Te Hono ki Hawaiki. (r) Ka hikitia, ka hapainga te waka ki tōna tauranga. Photos courtesy of Eloise Wallace, Tairawhiti Museum
The following day, 12 June, was 150 years since the stolen Rongowhakaata meeting house Te Hau ki Tūranga was entered into the collection of the Colonial Museum (pre
decessor to Te Papa). It’s a significant day in the Ringatū faith, founded by Te Kooti Arikirangi (also of Rongowhakaata). Such events are tinged with sadness, anger, loss, but also hope. It’s an opportunity for this iwi to share their story, in their way, to remember the past, celebrate the present and look forward to the future.
I think that the two words that capture this type of occasion here at Te Papa, are Mana Taonga.
National Services Te Paerangi Box making wānanga
I’m a part of a team where we go out and work with communities to support them in the maintenance and care of their taonga. My part of this is liaising with iwi, hapū, whānau trusts and marae committees to organise workshops where we’ll take expertise to marae, such as Textiles Conservator Rangi Te Kanawa and Paper Conservator Vicki-Anne Heikell, to work with our people.
(L-R) Lynne Carmichael, Nancy Thompson, Chris Harp, Stephen Hebbendbach, (both from The Great War Exhibition) Victoria Esson, Paora Tibble, Anaru Rondon, Shane Pasene. Photo taken by Ati Teepa, Te Papa.
In August, I organised an internal box making workshop for the National Services Te Paerangi team, to give us an opportunity to participate in some of the work that we support across the country. We were privileged to have Te Papa staff members Shane Pasene (Conservation Technician), Rangi Te Kanawa (Textiles Conservator), and Andrea Hearfield (Kaitiaki Taonga Collection Manager Humanities) lead us in the workshop.
We shared the stories of the taonga that we were boxing up and I got to see what was important to my colleagues. We also learnt all the do’s and don’ts of safely storing taonga. It was fun. It was also useful for me, for when I go on the road again to workshops around the Motu.
Pakipaki and Matakohe visits
I invited NSTP Manager Iwi Development | Pouwhirinaki ā-Iwi, Migoto Eria, to write about some of our activity across the country in July.
Taonga Preservation Workshop, Houngarea Marae, Pakipaki (14-15 July 2017)
We are welcomed onto Houngarea Marae on a rather rainy morning. We took on textiles conservator Rangi Te Kanawa and the textiles workshop participants. After our pōhiri and other formalities, we got down to our mahi. The taonga to be boxed ranged from Rātana banners, a marae flag, kete, piupiu, kākahu and tīpare.
Our local whānau were busy with cutting card, hot gluing, stitching Dacron, sticking Tyvek … Wii te nui o ngā mahi! He waimarie nō mātou, we had Jill Munro and her whānau as our ringawera in the kitchen, we were well looked after and never ever hungry. By the final day our whānau were happy with the outcome of their mahi, it was valuable bonding time with taonga as our kaupapa.
Huge thanks to Rangi for her guidance, and also to the hau kāinga for their manaakitanga and aroha.
Group photo of the participants in Pakipaki. Photo by Migoto Eria, Te Papa
Whānau at work with Rangi Te Kanawa (wearing beret). Photo by Migoto Eria, Te Papa
Matakohe visits and Role of Māori in Museums workshop
On this haerenga, Paora and I were privileged to visit the rohe of Te Uri o Hau, of Ngāti Whātua. The majestic kauri tree is a tupuna respected and nurtured by the locals of Matakohe, and on our visit to the Kauri Museum, we experienced how special and important this tupuna is.
You can begin the tour of the museum through the extensive gum collection. The walls of this display area entirely made of kauri or other native timber. Naively, I was mistaken to think that this was the entirety of the museum. By the end of our rather shortened visit of the displays, we had a realisation that one simply does not visit the Kauri Museum for a ‘quick visit’. It’s an absolute must see.
Kauri museum display. Photo by Migoto Eria, Te Papa
Totara House, an old homestead 5 minutes drive from the Kauri Museum, was another highlight of our Matakohe trip. The home belonged to the Smith whānau, whose children and mokopuna were all born, raised and sadly died in their whare. Pete and Tracey from the museum kindly took us for a tour of this wonderful whare.
Pete, the Matakohe takiwā historian shared some of the whānau stories with us, as well as some of the background of the local whenua. Down the back of the property is an established pā harakeke, cared for by the locals.
Totora House, Matakohe. Photo Migoto Eria, Te Papa
We were in Matakohe to facilitate a ServiceIQ Role of Māori in Museums workshop, with attendees coming from museums from all over Northland. We spent a whole day in our wānanga, discussing kaupapa such as the Protected Objects Act, the articles of the Tiriti, mana taonga and the practice of cultural self-care. It was a wonderful and engaging hui with members of the Northland Museums Cluster – huge thanks to attendees and our hosts at the Kauri Museum.
Workshop attendees at the Kauri Museum, Matakohe. Photo Migoto Eria, Te Papa
Nā māua ko Migoto me ngā mihi o Hinekōanga ki a koutou katoa,
Iwi Development Adviser│Kaiwhanake ā-Iwi
Iwi Development Manager │Pouwhirinaki ā-Iwi
*Last edition I used ‘I te Ara’, which translates as On the Path. This time I’ve gone with ‘Huarahi’, which is a wide, well trodden pathway.
**Paora and Migoto have translated this post into Māori for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. You can read the Māori version here