January 31, 2012

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Rebecca Phillipps



Reconnaissance Trip to Great Mercury Island

Great Mercury Island/Ahuahu

Overview with shearers' quarters

In December a group of us, including Professor Geoff Irwin, Professor Thegn Ladefoged, Dr Rod Wallace, Peter Johnston, Pete Johnston, Alex Jorgensen and myself, headed out to Great Mercury Island. While most of the group had visited the island before, it was my first time out there and the experience was nothing short of impressive. We hitched a ride out on the farm boat courtesy of Sir Michael Fay and were able to stay overnight on the island.

Surveying archaeological features

We walked over some of the areas we are interested in working on during February, in addition to visiting some famous locations on the island. These included one of the earliest documented sites on the island and the very impressive Tamawera Pa. The archaeology of the island is incredible and future research carried out here will undoubtedly be significant to New Zealand prehistory. We are all very much looking forward to the opportunity to work on such an amazing location.

Tamawera Pa

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January 30, 2012

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Saturday @ Ngapuhi Festival

After settling into Kaikohe on Friday night we were ‘ready’ for an early start and pack in at #Ngapuhi2012. Actually the early start was a bit of challenge but we needed all that time to get our site ready for festival goers at 9am.  Our site is immediately in front of the main stage on a big 10m by 5m site so we were expecting, at the very least, to enjoy the entertainment on stage, however with 40000 visitors expected we were well prepared for a busy day.

Setting up Auckland Museum's site at the Ngāpuhi festival 2012

Setting up Auckland Museum's site at the Ngāpuhi festival

Tents all set up, and now time to fill them....

Dressing Auckland Museum's site ready for our visitors.

Dressing Auckland Museum's site ready for our visitors.

Our site was split into three sections, a technology rich corner with access to the Auckland Museum databases of service men and women (cenotaph), and taonga in our collections (Te Kakano). We also have a website for collecting stories for our new exhibition - Identi-Tee: Tāku Ti-Hāte, Tāku Korero (My Tee-Shirt, My Story). The second section is information about Ngāpuhi related taonga in our collections, and the third section was a family corner where tamariki (children) and parents could make Ngāpuhi taonga related badges. And out in front we set up a çhill out space with umbrellas and bean bags.

The official opening on Saturday morning happened at 9am and while the start was a slow affair the quality and time we spent with people at that time was great.  One of my favourite photo’s from the festival so far was taken on Saturday morning with Jeff Evans and a family searching the cenotaph database for their family members.  What made this photo and the interaction so special was that it was a real inter-generational affair.  Jeff, the Kuia and Kaumatua, and their mokopuna spent a considerable amount of time exploring cenotaph.  The iPads were a bit of a challenge, as was the need to borrow reading glasses, but I am pretty sure that during this exchange Jeff managed to gather some more information to help us build the resources of our database, and to enrich the stories the database has to tell.

Exploring whanau links through Auckland Museum's cenotaph database.

Exploring whanau links through Auckland Museum's cenotaph database.

That story was typical of numerous conversations we had on Saturday.  Ngapuhi’s William Mihaka and his whanau members came in to search the cenotaph database, and found an interesting photo of one of their tupuna (apparently they hadn’t seen it before) and they also said they had found some more information and expressed an interest in having them included in our records.  After exploring for a while they left, but clearly spread the word because we had a steady stream of Mihaka’s through our site for the rest of the afternoon. That is one on many similar stories.

Ngapuhi festival was a rich site for gathering information for our new exhibition launching on March 9.  Identi-teeprovides an opportunity to test alternative methods of collection development that not only address practical museum concerns, for instance storage and display space, but also increased community participation in collection development and curation. The mass production of T-shirts, combined with the ephemeral nature of their iconography, makes digital collation a more practical alternative to standard museum acquisition practices.’ – Chanel Clarke.  On Saturday we captured 75 people willing to be photographed and tell their story about their tee-shirt.  It was helpful that the Auckland Museum were able to spot a good Tee-Shirt story at about 100m and made contact with the festival goers, and the festival goers seemed to enjoy the experience.

Carlin working the family activity table at #Ngapuhi2012

Carlin working the family activity table at #Ngapuhi2012

We also had a steady stream of families doing the activities and it wasn’t just the kids.  The badges were all designs from collections of Ngapuhi descent and they just needed to be coloured in and made.  It is constantly a hot favourite of visitors to our site, and provides a great opportunity to stop and rest for a while, which one family did….for the whole afternoon as they enjoyed the music on our doorstep.

From a technology point of view it all went relatively smoothly, we lost connection to the internet for 30 minutes at one stage and vodafone were helpful resolving that issue, I have made a mental note that blogging from an iPhone is not an easy thing to do, and especially inserting photos.

Safe arrival in Kaikohe – the heartland of Ngāpuhi

It was a interesting ride with Alert Taxi yesterday morning as I headed to pick up our car for the second wave of staff going north to Ngāpuhi’s heartland. Mr Edmonds, my driver, was telling his stories of his trips to Northland and connecting back to his family of early settlers. His great, great, great, (great?) Grandfather had helped build the original stone store in Paihia, and also lay the stone for the first printing press! In a round about way he went on to say that his family (from the UK), went on to settle into the community very well…we should expect to see a few of his family up at #Ngapuhi2012. The story evolved and we drove straight pass our stop…….I expect that will be an indication of the festival itself, interesting stories, interesting connections, worthwhile distractions.

Departing Auckland War Memorial Museum for the 2012 Ngāpuhi Festival

Carlin, Jeff and Amelia depart Auckland Museum for the Ngāpuhi Festival

The forecast was excellent for the weekend, but we arrived in the wind and rain and decided that set up would be best deferred to the morning, instead we decided to go and spend some time with the taonga in the Toi Ngāpuhi exhibition. It would be fair to say that our taonga was in some pretty amazing company, surrounding by some of Northlands very talented artists (including our very own Bethany Matai Edmunds). We met two of the artists (Will and Whiu) sitting with the ‘papahou’ on loan from Auckland Museum to keep it company. As we talked he wiped the glass case clean….someone had hongi’d the case. I suspect it was him after observing him sitting so close, and hearing him talk of the priviledge of being able to see it up close and around it.

Arriving at Northland College for Ngāpuhi 2012 with the Atamira in the background

Dot, Kirk, Jeff, Carlin and Bethany arrive to a wet Kaikohe for Ngāpuhi 2012

We had a lot of conversations about the role of artists and museums to build, value and acknowledge trditional knowledge (matauranga). Allen Wihongi and Bethany Edmunds were busy debating this surrounded by museum taonga and artists exhibition pieces, preparing for the discussion at the wananga later on Saturday.

Discussions between Auckland Museum (Bethany Edmunds), Ngapuhi runanga (Allen Wihongi) and artist Rhonda Halliday

Discussions between Auckland Museum (Bethany Edmunds), Ngapuhi runanga (Allen Wihongi) and artist Rhonda Halliday

We got our team photo in front of the Atamira, the first time one has been built (up north?) for over a hundred years, and a symbol for this years festival, and then headed to Waitangi/Paihia for our briefing and dinner at Shippies.

I have plenty of photos that capture the moments……

Auckland Museum is off to the Ngāpuhi Festival

Hongi Hika: A self-carved wooden bust completed on Hongi's first trip to Sydney.

Hongi Hika: A self-carved wooden bust completed on Hongi's first trip to Sydney.

After a lot of preparation our team finally set off to join Te Runanga a Iwi o Ngapuhi for their biennial festival in Kaikohe.  Matua Haare Williams, Chanel Clarke, Vasiti Palavi, Nicola Railton and Bethany Edmunds and a selection of Ngāpuhii taonga from Auckland Museum made a historical journey home to the north where the taonga will be displayed as part of the Toi Ngāpuhi exhibition at the festival.   Amongst the taonga at the festival is a beautiful piece of art by Hongi Hika himself, carved in 1816 on his trip to Sydney, and a greenstone mere.

It’s been a long journey getting to this point, and we are certainly looking forward to the next few days when we get to see our taonga at home in in Northland, amongst their iwi, and to hear and see their stories being told.    This is the first time that taonga have traveled North for the festivities, and we hope that by being there we will reinforce and promote the Mana, Matauranga and Tikanga of Ngāpuhi nui tonu, and enjoy a weekend full of entertainment, art, competitions, kapa haka, whanaungatanga, wananga, matauranga, stalls, shopping and plenty of kai.

The forward team have prepared the way  for the festival team that travels up tomorrow.  It was good to wake up this morning to see and hear the media coverage of our taonga loan.  I know Chanel has spent a lot of hours on the phone talking to the media,  RNZ has run a couple of stories, including a small piece on manu korihi news, and the NZ Herald also covered it well.  I also caught up with Vasiti as well this morning and she spoke of the emotional welcome they received as they arrived, and the care and attention they have all received.

The rest of the team tomorrow morning when we can set up our site at the festival in front of the stage.  The weather forecast is good for Saturday and Sunday, so we are all on track.  If you come to the festival come and see us and explore a range of activities we have planned for all the family.  Set the kids a task making badges or doing activities while you find our more about the taonga on loan, or use our cenotaph and te kakano databases to search for family members or taonga related to you.   If you want a bit of fame and have a story to share about your t shirt, why not let us take your photo in your t shirt while you tell us your story….it might even feature in our next exhibition ‘Identi-Tee: My T-Shirt, My Story’ or ‘Identi-Tee: Tāku Tī hāte, Tāku Kōrero’

Over the next few days we will be blogging from the festival, capturing the atmosphere and the flavour of our historic trip north.  We expect it all to be pretty fast paced at the Festival and this will probably be reflected in the style of our postings……accept our apologies in advance!  If you want to follow us on twitter then look out for the #Ngapuhi2012 handle, and if you are up in Kaikohe come and see us.  The full team will be Bethany, Chanel, Vasiti, Nicola, Jeff, Carlin, Dot, Amelia, Dianne, and myself.

See you at #Ngapuhi2012


Welcome to this week’s preview of Tamaki Paenga Hira, an informative program recently featured on Maori Television exploring 13 taonga Maori from the Auckland War Memorial Museum collections.

Episode 13: Tutauru

The show, screened on Maori Television onWednesday 11th January 2012 explored the rich tradition relating to the toki poutangata (adze) ‘Tutauru’.

Tradition states that blade of Tutauru was shaped from a block of pounamu (greenstone) that had been collected in Aotearoa by the Polynesian explorer Ngahue and taken back to the ancestral homeland of Hawaiki. Two adzes were made – Tutauru and Hauhau-te-rangi – and both were used in the construction of the migration waka Te Arawa.

Toki poutangata Tutauru

By the late 18th century the adze had been acquired from its guardian, Purahokura, and transported to England, where it was gifted to a Miss Jennings by her uncle in July 1794. It was eventually purchased by William Oldman and added to his extensive collection before the entire collection was purchased by the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs. The adze was deposited in the Auckland Museum in 1950 as part of the Oldman Collection.

Please note that Tutauru is currently on long term loan to Rotorua Museum.

Te Taiaha a Hōne Heke

Welcome to this week’s preview of Tamaki Paenga Hira, an informative program currently featuring on Maori Television exploring 13 taonga Maori from the Auckland War Memorial Museum collections.

Episode 12: Te Taiaha a Hōne Heke

This week’s show focuses on the life of northern chief and war leader Hōne Heke. Born in or about 1807 at Pakaraka, south of Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands, Heke held considerable authority in the north right up until his eventual defeat at Te Ahuahu in 1845.

Te upoku a te taiaha a Hōne Heke. The head of Hōne Heke's taiaha.

A nephew of Hongi Hika who had led Ngapuhi musket raids south from the Far North in the 1820s, Heke and Tāmati Wāka Nene were instrumental in convincing fellow northern chiefs to sign the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840 – but only after Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson had assured them that the purpose of the Treaty was primarily to protect Māori land and Māori interests.

Within 5 years, Heke’s dissatisfaction with the British and their increasing disregard of the Treaty of Waitangi drove him to challenge the Crown publically by chopping down the flagstaff at Kororāreka several times in 1844 and 1845.

Warfare was inevitable, and finally broke out when Hōne Heke, Pūmuka and Kawiti led a Māori attack on Kororāreka (Russell) on 11 March 1845. Further battles were fought in the north between Ngapuhi warriors and British troops. Heke’s force held their own in several battles, including the defeat of a mixed force of British army regulars, seamen, marines and European volunteers at Puketutu. He was eventually defeated at Te Ahuahu by a pro-government force of Maori from Hokianga. Heke lived a further 5 years, dying of tuberculosis on 7 August 1850.

The taiaha was gifted to the Auckland Museum by Mr. A Geddes in 1913.

Please note that the taiaha is on display in the Maori Court of the Auckland Museum.

Tamaki Paenga Hira, Episode 12: Te Taiaha a Hōne Heke screened on Maori Television, Wednesday 4th January 2012 at 8.30.