Gavin's on-the-road diary - September 2013 

Gavin Reedy

The winter months haven’t slowed down the steady stream of enquiries and interest from iwi and whanau groups.

The enquiries for the most part are specific, with whānau having well-defined projects. These may include applying to the Expert Knowledge Exchange programme for assistance with strategic planning, to celebrate milestones and other aspects in history, and to plan for the future. The traditional enquiries are still popular: whānau taonga needing attention, or conservation techniques like assessment, wrapping, packing, or boxing for future safe keeping.

The National Services Te Paerangi team gathered at our headquarters at Te Papa Tongarewa in early June. We don’t get together too often so it’s a busy time – a time to plan ahead for the coming year, to check out trends, and be proactive in our thinking for the future.

Sally August and I travelled in the Tairawhiti region with Holly Cusack-McVeigh in July. Holly was on a professional exchange with National Services Te Paerangi. She is a cultural anthropologist, and Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. Part of her job involves her work with indigenous peoples in the USA and Canada. Holly gets to know the indigenous people she works with well, understands their traditions, has respect for their way of life, and is empathic to the struggles and hurdles they have to overcome to keep true to their way of life.

Image: Holly Cusack-McVeigh and Sally August outside Toihoukura School of Māori Visual Art and Design, Gisborne

Our part of Holly’s tour in the North Island encompassed the area from Gisborne to Rotorua. We met with iwi and visited organisations along the way. We visited Tairawhiti Museum, met with Hera and Wayne Ngata at Tolaga Bay, reflected on the history of the Whakatane area, met with the very knowledgeable Dean Flavell at the Tauranga Collections Centre and were very impressed by the quality work at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI). At NZMACI we met the staff and spent time with the trainee carvers and their Head Tutor James Rickard. A big thanks to James Rickard, and to Hera Ngata from the Institute in Rotorua.

Image: Dean Flavell and Holly Cusack-McVeigh checking out packing and storage techniques

We also visited the Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa, and were well received by Pamela Lovis and the team there. We were welcomed by Māori Curator Manaaki Pene and the Kaumatua-Roopu Pukenga (group of local elders). It gave us a chance to hear a bit about the local history of the area and for Holly to exchange information.

This part of Holly’s North Island tour was a small part of her very busy time in New Zealand and highlighted possible future projects. I know that we will see more of Holly in New Zealand in the near future. A big thanks to all the people who hosted us at their work places, marae, and homes along the way.

Ngā mihi mahana mō tō koutou manaaki mai i a mātou. Ngā mihi aroha!

Finally whānau, if you have a project or a question you have always wanted to ask, get on the phone, (call us on freephone 0508 678 743), email me, or contact any one of our staff. Don’t forget to read the interesting articles and case studies we have on our website.

Gavin Reedy