Te Papa appoints Arapata Hakiwai to Kaihautū role

23 August 2013

The Chairman of the Board of Te Papa, Evan Williams, has today announced the appointment of Mr Arapata Hakiwai to the role of Kaihautū. Arapata Hakiwai of Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou, and Ngāi Tahu will commence the role on 1 October.

Mr Williams says he’s delighted with the appointment of Arapata who will provide bicultural leadership across the Museum, support the philosophy of Mana Taonga, and further develop the strong networks and relationships he has with iwi (tribes) throughout New Zealand.  

“Arapata is an exceptional leader. He is a scholar and recognised authority on taonga Māori. His skills, expertise and guidance will enable Te Papa to continue to fulfil its role as Kaitiaki (guardian) of the taonga (treasures) in its care,” said Evan Williams.

“Te Papa plays an important role in developing and strengthening relationships between iwi, hapū, whānau, communities and their taonga. I am looking forward to continuing this work, and building on these significant relationships,“ said Arapata Hakiwai.

As Kaihautū, he will share strategic leadership with the Chief Executive, Michael Houlihan.  Mr Houlihan says he is looking forward to working alongside Arapata as he leads the development of Te Papa’s Mana Taonga capability; provides oversight of the iwi relationship programme, the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme, iwi in residence and the Marae; and ensures the ethnic and cultural diversity of the People of New Zealand is represented.

“It’s an exciting time at Te Papa with our new Vision to change hearts, minds and lives.  Arapata will make a significant contribution to embedding the recent changes that will ensure Te Papa’s future position as one of the World’s leading cultural institutions,” said Michael Houlihan.

In his current role as Head of Mātauranga Māori, and recently as the Scholar, Mātauranga Māori, Arapata has been leading the intellectual direction for Māori research and scholarship at Te Papa. He has established important relationships with communities and institutions in the museum sector across New Zealand and internationally. His curatorial expertise and understanding of taonga (treasures) is well respected. He is currently leading a world-wide research project to identify and create a digital database of Māori and Moriori taonga in museums and galleries both nationally and internationally, which aims to facilitate the digital repatriation of them to reconnect with their people.

Acting Kaihautū Rhonda Paku has also congratulated Arapata on his appointment saying staff have enormous respect for him as a leader and mentor to colleagues.

“I wish him all the very best  in this role as he continues to dedicate himself to working in the museum sector.  He has a wealth of experience gained over the past twenty-four years since he started as a trainee exhibition curator on a project for the National Museum of New Zealand and the Australian Museum.  His ongoing contribution and commitment to Te Papa will be invaluable,” said Rhonda Paku.

Media contact

Heather Church
04 3817083 or 029 601 0180

Further biographical details for Arapata Hakiwai

  • Currently Head, Mātauranga Māori and previously Scholar, Mātauranga Māori, responsible for helping to lead the research, scholarship and Mātauranga Māori at Te Papa, mentoring Mātauranga Māori team members, involved in all Treaty of Waitangi and taonga research activities. He has contributed to Nga Pae o te Maramatanga, a centre for Māori Research Excellence, on research projects.

  • As Acting Kaihautū at Te Papa between 2007-2008 provided bicultural leadership and strategic advice across Te Papa, and strengthened relationships with iwi.

  • During his time as Director Mātauranga Māori, 2003-2008, he guided the direction of research on the Māori collections and policies and practices of Taonga Māori. He led the development of the Toi Ora Māori exhibition to Tokyo, and was co-editor of the Te Papa Press publication, Toi Ora.

  • In 2002-2003 Arapata was Community Partnerships Manager Māori – Te Taumaru Herenga-āiwi for National Services Te Paerangi at Te Papa, with management responsibility for regional and national partnership contracts, and developing relationships with iwi and stakeholders. He provided facilitation and negotiation with whānau, hapū, iwi, and Kaitiaki Māori in the museum sector.

  • As Manager, Bicultural Operations – Kaiwhakahaere Tikanga-ā-rua, 1999-2002, Arapata was responsible for the operational dimension of Te Papa's bicultural goal and managed a diverse range of projects across the Museum, including bicultural perspectives, repatriation of kōiwi held overseas, marae operations, advice and development of kaupapa Māori and Mātauranga Māori, and assisted teaching on the MA Museum & Heritage Studies programme at Victoria University of Wellington.

  • Arapata started his career in the Museum Sector in 1989 after working as a teacher at Wellington High School.  He was a trainee exhibitions curator at the Australian Museum, Sydney and National Museum of New Zealand where he went on to be Pou Kaitaki, Curator of Māori Collections and Exhibition Concept Developer. He helped lead the restoration of the Ruatepupuke carved meeting house in the Field Museum, Chicago, working with the tribal descendants, Te Waka Toi, and the Field Museum. 

  • Arapata has twice been a Board member of the Museums Aotearoa Board, during which time he was principally responsible for leading the Māori input into the New Zealand Museums Sector Strategy.  He also organised and led national workshops and meetings for Māori museum workers.

  • He has managed and provided leadership for the repatriation of Māori and Moriori kōiwi tangata from Field Museum, Chicago, Glasgow University and Edinburgh University, Scotland and the Royal Scottish Museums, the Australian Museum, Sydney and repatriated Toi Moko from the Australian Museum, Sydney.

  • Arapata maintains strong links with his iwi, hapū and marae.