Te Papa staff are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Dr Cliff Whiting, who was instrumental in establishing Te Papa as Aotearoa New Zealand’s national museum.
Dr Whiting was appointed as Te Papa’s inaugural Kaihautū in 1995 and his vision for a truly bi-cultural museum continues to this day.
“Cliff was a true leader and visionary who believed with passion and commitment the importance of our heritage and art,“ says Dr Arapata Hakiwai, Te Papa’s Kaihautū. “He led the development of our bicultural national museum and made sure that Māori were partners and actively involved in everything we did. His life was dedicated towards our taonga and ensuring that we looked after it and developed it for future generations.”
Dr Whiting was also instrumental in leading the design of Te Papa’s spectacular marae, Rongomarearoa, which embodies the spirit of partnership between cultures that Te Papa has honoured from its very beginnings.
Te Papa’s Chief Executive, Geraint Martin says his leadership and vision was recognised in his receiving Aotearoa New Zealand’s highest honour: the Order of New Zealand.
“His mana and dignity, and contribution to the understanding of our bi-cultural history, as well as our artistic traditions, is reflected in his being awarded this highest of honours,” says Mr. Martin. “We at Te Papa are proud to be able to have guardianship of his remarkable marae in our museum. It’s a place that inspires not just our visitors, but all of our staff, and it is a constant reminder to us of the values and beauty that Cliff embodied.”
Dr. Arapata Hakiwai says Cliff Whiting’s legacy lives on in Te Papa through the example he set, which the museum follows and builds upon to this day.
“Haere atu rā e te rangatira. Te Kaihautū o te tini me te mano. Moe mārire mai.”