About our mātauranga Māori research

Publications and stories

Research areas

Te Papa’s taonga Māori research informs our exhibitions, collection development, popular and scholarly publications, and educational and public programmes.

We aim to reconnect people with their tribal taonga and to assist the reclamation of Māori knowledge, language, and customs.

What we study

  • Taonga tūturu – customary arts and art forms

  • Mahi toi – customary arts practices and processes

  • Māori social histories and stories

  • Tribal and community connections to taonga Māori

  • International and national public collections of taonga Māori

  • The social and historical contexts of Māori and indigenous museology, exhibition, and reception

  • Taonga Māori conservation and care

Our diverse collection includes contemporary art, contemporary social history, whakairo, mahi kōhatu, taonga whakapaipai, Māori portraiture and figurative representations, te whare pora, and other cultural practices – from traditional to contemporary.

Cross-cultural focus and interdisciplinary practice

Our Mātauranga Māori research recognises the influence that cross-cultural knowledge exchange has on mahi toi Māori. We incorporate whakapapa shared with Pacific cultures and with Tangata Tiriti.

We embrace the interdisciplinary nature of Mātauranga Māori, working across the varied disciplines of art, science, history, and Pacific cultures.

Collection development and conservation

We take a research-based approach to collecting taonga Māori, and we research new ways to preserve and care for our collection items.

Documentation and reflection

We document taonga Māori and analyse their use in Te Papa’s activities, such as exhibitions. We also examine the role of taonga Māori, tikanga Māori, and kawa Māori within a bicultural and interdisciplinary museum.

Audience engagement

We work with other Te Papa teams to develop new ways to engage Te Papa’s audiences, through education initiatives and interpretation – with a particular focus on Te Papa’s Māori audience engagement.

Research partnerships and advice

We collaborate with other institutions, universities, and professional associations to research taonga Māori, customary practice, and related topics.

We assist iwi, hapū, whānau, and Crown agencies working on Treaty of Waitangi settlements relating to Te Papa’s collections and research.

We provide expert advice to government agencies, such as the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and Creative New Zealand, and to local, national, and international arts organisations.

We also assist other researchers, including students and publishers.