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20 Novemeber 2015
Iwi from around the country have gathered in Whakatane to share behind-the-scenes insights from iwi heritage projects, from “bricks and mortar” cultural centres, to digital repositories and travelling exhibitions.
Tūhonohono i nga Taonga a Iwi: Preserving Iwi Cultural Heritage looked at the growth in iwi cultural centres, and other innovative ways of preserving and sharing iwi heritage.
The hui was jointly hosted by Te Papa and Ngati Awa, at Ngati Awa's stunning Mataatua wharenui in Whakatane.
“There has been huge growth in iwi cultural centres and projects in recent years,” says Te Papa Kaihautu Arapata Hakiwai.
“It is exciting to see iwi creating their own spaces to tell their own stories, and bring their taonga home.”
Linnae Pohatu from Auckland Museum summarised some of the lessons shared by the wide range of speakers. She began by reflecting simply: “it is a great time to be Maori.”
Linnae Pohatu commented on the diversity of stories shared:
“Each journey is unique and has its own mauri, at the heart is the unique mana motuhake of each iwi.”
Ms Pohatu said keeping the lines of communication open was a common theme:
“Talk to one another, online and offline, be prepared to argue about things, it's the right thing to do.”
Another observation was the power of cultural projects to bring a community together.
“Ask yourself, what is the thing that's going to bring you together? In a lot of instances it was a taonga being returned, but it could be the revitalisation of reo, or a waka voyaging.”
“It might be the smallest taonga in the world but it could be the one thing that brings your people together,” Linnae Pohatu said.
Mataatua wharenui, where the hui was held, has a number of innovative ways of preserving and sharing the heritage of Ngāti Awa. The light show, HIKO, in the wharenui lets the carvings themselves tell their own story. The Runanga have invested in a purpose built portable exhibition space in a shipping container, enabling iwi exhibitions to get to the heart of the community. It is currently showing the exhibition Ngati Awa Treaty of Waitangi. Probably the most controversial element of the wharenui is the new photo replicas in place where the amo (carvings) once stood. Due to their age the carvings have been retired and new replicas will be commissioned in the near future.
Projects shared at the hui included:
The hui was generously supported by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage, Te Puni Kōkiri, Heritage NZ, Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision, Alexander Turnbull Library, NZ Micrographics, Tohu Wines, Aotearoa Fisheries, Department of Conservation, and Digital Navigators Ltd.
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