KRS-ONE and the Temple of Hip Hop comes to heaven (in Aotearoa)

'Scholarly work' Photo by Ekaterina Chernova

Last Sunday we were privileged to welcome one of the world’s Hip Hop icons into the Events Centre here at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. When I mentioned that we had honoured veterans of War earlier that morning he said, well now you have another veteran in the building. I began my introduction with a whakatauki ‘Ko te manu e kai ana i te miro nona te ngahere, ko te manu e kai ana i te matauranga, nona te ao’ ‘The bird that eats the miro berries his realm is the forest, the bird who seeks knowledge has access to the world’ I thought this was appropriate in light of the philosophies that KRS ONE aka ‘the teacha’ shared with a captivated crowd of over 500 dedicated hiphoppa’s.

KRS ONE an acronym for Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone evidences his passion to spread awareness about the fundamentals of Hiphop, appropriately (in light of our Identi-Tee exhibition) using his t-shirt as a black board to describe Hiphop as a consciousness, Hip Hop the culture, and hip-hop the music and product that spreads the word.

'Hip Hop is culture' Photo by Ekaterina Chernova

‘Every culture produces its own “keeper”. Every culture produces its own principles, its own history, its own advocates, and its own prophet pointing the way to a higher quality of life. For the urban-street culture known in the world today as “Hip Hop”, KRS-One is all of the above. Appearing on the rap scene in 1986 as Boogie Down Productions releasing his first hit single “South Bronx” with the late DJ Scott La Rock, KRS “the one” made it clear that he was “the teacha”.’

It’s been a pretty epic week since last Thursday when we welcomed our first group of youth participants into the building for Urbanlife, which also opened the doors to this opportunity to host KRS-ONE, thank you to Aotearoa’s own godfather of Hiphop DLT (Darryl Thomson) for making the call, and to the promoters and all the museum staff who took a proactive approach towards reaching out to a younger generation and new diverse audiences. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity for me as an MC, and the culmination of years of active involvement in Hiphop culture, the responses that I have had from people out in the wider community have been only positive, grateful and congratulatory that we jumped on the chance and were bold enough to provide a comfortable space for this event to occur.

'Hiphop is a conciousness'- Photo by Ekaterina Chernova

“Just To see KRS-One speak was a privilege! A lesson in life, in history and in Hip Hop — in all senses of the term. The standing ovation well deserved. The venue couldn’t have been better. Big thanks Auckland Museum for your last-minute magic!”

(Facebook comment)

KRS ONE himself praised the Museum for being bold enough to acknowledge the relevance of Hiphop and the knowledge he had to share from moments and major players in social and political American history to honouring women and the single mothers who have supported and enabled their sons and daughters to step forth and build the phenomenon that is Hiphop as we know it today.

‘If I can say a heartfelt thanks to this museum, if you talk about the preservation of Hiphop this is the first museum in the world to host an event like this. Let this be a message to all other museums that can’t find time for Hiphop in its institution, don’t wanna do the scholarly work to understand Hiphop. There’s a lot museums around we know, and I’m talking about really the museums in the United States is what I’m saying, because it’s a shame, I would never be invited to a museum of this stature in the United States, imagine… I would never be invited they have no time for me, they have no respect for what we do, this is America where Hiphop started, and this is how we are treated… then I come to heaven… Aotearoa……’ KRS ONE

'The teacha speaks'- Photo by Ekaterina Chernova

For those of you who want more teachings check out and don’t forget May is NZ Music month so get out and show some love at upcoming gigs and buy some NZ Hiphop! KRS ONE also asked that I mention Hiphop appreciation week so here it is …May 14th-21st
Massive shout outs to DLT, Teremoana, King Kapisi, Che Fu, Slave, Hype and the Hedlok crew, DJ’s Sirvere and Manuel Bundy …. Nga Remu, JLove, matua Haare and the museum whanau… and Ekaterina Chernova for capturing these beautiful images on the day!

Naku noa na Miss bMe

Kermadec Blog wins Web Award

The team at Auckland Museum are buzzing with the news of our win in the Best of the Web awards at Museums and the Web 2012 where our Kermadec blog won the “Social Media” category. Our blog, which we created last year to follow an expedition to the Kermadec Islands, had over 10,000 visitors in three weeks.

Small Diver and Blue Naomao

Picture perfect: a diver stops to take a photo while schools of Blue Maomao swim overhead © M Francis

The team of 13 scientists from Auckland Museum, Te Papa, the Australian Museum, NIWA and the Department of Conservation made some amazing discoveries including species that were new to New Zealand and even new to science.

I think we were knew it was something special when we found ourselves constantly checking our emails for news from the ship. We were very lucky to have science communicator Alison Ballance on the ship, she was able to bring the expedition alive for everyone who was following the blog.

Working with the scientists to communicate what they were finding and being able to share videos and photos of those in near real time was a real privilege. We like to think that for some of the children following the blog it might be the spark that gives them a lifelong passion for science.

It was also a great opportunity for the museum to give the public a firsthand look at some of the research we’re involved in, with our research manager Tom Trnski driving that expedition.

We were thrilled with the way people responded to the blog in May last year and this award is the icing on the cake.
For anyone that followed our blog and who is still hankering for a fix from the Kermadecs, you’ll be glad to hear our exhibition team is busy working on a marine exhibition for 2013 where you’ll get to see firsthand some of the incredible discoveries that were made and make some of your own discoveries too.

Identi-tee Activity

With three elements to the identi-tee exhibition – on-site, off-site and on-line – the work can get pretty extreme. But a really cool on-site component in the Tamaki Gallery is the opportunity for some tactile interactivity. In other words we provide cloth templates for visitors to come up with unique t-shirt designs which are then exhibited in the gallery.

This shot was taken within hours of the show opening and already submissions going up in the identi-tee gallery.

This shot was taken within hours of the show opening and already submissions going up in the identi-tee gallery.

The other exciting component in the gallery is the activity table itself. If you live locally and haven’t seen it yet, the table alone is worth the trip in to the museum, I guarantee it. Twelve used printing screens are incorporated into the table, and 2 into each of the seats. The screens have been kindly donated to identi-tee by Excellent Screen Printers ESP NZ.

Twelve used printing screens are incorporated into the table, and 2 into each of the seats.

Twelve used printing screens are incorporated into the table, and 2 into each of the seats.

We’ve inserted into the table-top screens photographs from the Museum’s image archives by local photographer Gil Hanly taken in the 1980s of t-shirts being worn at national and local occasions around Aotearoa.

Table inserts from Gil Hanly Collection Table inserts from Gil Hanly Collection

From the Gil Hanly collection

The screen printing technique has been around for over 1000 years, and there is a lot of information out there on the web and in our communities. But here are some sites I’ve found useful. You can find local screen printing suppliers, or art classes are offered all over town if you prefer. – a quick ‘how to’ from our printing screen sponsors, ESP. – Enterprising Bubbi demonstrates a really simple stencilling technique that anyone can do at home. All you need are a few easy to get pieces of equipment – embroiders frame, pva glue, fabric paint and a bit of imagination. – Easy step-by-step explanation for making and printing from your own paper stencil by Lee May Foster. – The guys at Custom Logo USA, have generously uploaded a 2 part video tutorial on screen printing on a coloured garment, the set-up however is on a larger scale. – Jonathan provides really useful video tutorials, tips and advice and has a blog post all covering a range of screen printing topics. And yes, there’s an explanation for the business name.

Identi-tee - My T-shirt, My Story

University Wars

So the Festivals are done and dusted.   We trotted out our kiosk and iMacs so you could all take goofy pictures of yourself in your favourite T-shirts and you’re all looking mighty fine on our website

But I’m sure there are a lot more T-shirts out there.  We want to be the biggest T-shirt archive in the world so it’s time to get serious now.  I thought we would kick off with some Tribal Wars but actually our good friends over at Huffer have just announced a pretty cool collaboration with Auckland University and so Uni Wars it is.  As an incentive we might even have a prize for the first University tee uploaded to our site.  And I’m sure the folks at Auckland University might even throw in one of these fab new Huffer designed T-shirts for the person with the best University of Auckland T-shirt story. 

Back in the day when I went to University we used to have this thing called the T-shirt drop for O Week (that’s Orientation Week for those of you north of the Bombays!).  Anyway the idea is you all head over to this green space behind the local Tavern, then affectionately known as the Hilly, and a helicopter flies around and drops a few goodies from the air, including a handful of T-shirts.  Now these aren’t just any old T-shirts.  The lucky recipient of a T-shirt was entitled to several free jugs from the aforementioned establishment.  So with helicopter hovering overhead and goodies dropping from the sky I spy a t-shirt coming straight for me.  Only thing is there’s this towering giant guy in front of me.  We both reached for the heavens and a slight struggle ensues and someone came out with a few grazes and a bruised ego but it wasn’t me! I never knew what happened to that T-shirt but we had some fun that night. 

It’s all on people.  In our office we’ve currently got Waikato against Auckland and all I’ve got to say is Mooloo Ole, Ole, Ole!

Identi-tee - My T-shirt, My Story

T-shirts in War and Peace

As I drove over the Auckland Harbour Bridge this morning on my way to work the New Zealand flag was flying at half-mast, a poignant reminder of the continuing involvement and commitment of New Zealand troops in Afghanistan.

The flag was half-mast in acknowledgement of Corporal Douglas Hughes, 26, who died in hospital at the Forward Patrol Base Romero in the north-eastern Bamiyan province on the 3rd April 2012.  The flags were flown at half-mast on the day of the notification of his death and today being the last day of his tangi, they fly half-mast again at the request of the PM.

The New Zealand flag flying at half-mast today above the Auckland War Memorial Museum in honour of Corporal Douglas Hughes

The New Zealand flag flying at half-mast today above the Auckland War Memorial Museum in honour of Corporal Douglas Hughes

Hughes had been a rifleman from 1st Battalion Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, based in Linton Military Camp.  He had been deployed with the NZ Provincial Reconstruction Team to Afghanistan in September last year. This was his second tour in Afghanistan.

The sacrifice of New Zealanders at War is always brought home to us here at Auckland War Memorial Museum during the month of April.  It is always one of our busiest months particularly with the start of the school holidays.  As the wet weather starts to set in, as it has done these past few days, the Museum is always a great place to spend a rainy day!  However, April is also one of our most emotionally moving months as we reflect on this sacrifice and remember those who gave of their lives so that we can enjoy the life we live today. 

New Zealand sent more men to fight in World War I per head of population than any other nation. Of those killed, almost a third were buried half a world away in unmarked graves. Following the war, subscriptions were raised to construct the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The Museum opened in 1929 and became a symbolic meeting-place for Aucklanders to focus their grief. The museum continues to be an important site for commemorating fallen New Zealanders from all the conflicts that our country has been involved in.  Within the Museum we also recognise New Zealand’s contribution to peace-keeping around the globe. 

In fact if you are in the Museum over the school holidays come and check out one of the T-shirts located in the Hall of Fame in Identi-Tee My T-shirt, My Story.  This T-shirt was worn by Graeme Doull as part of his uniform when he served on Bougainville during 1999 as part of the Peace Monitoring Group in Papua New Guinea.  We are interested to know whether other Defence Force personnel have similar T-shirts from their active service around the globe.  If you do, upload your T-shirts pictures and stories to the website.

The Peace Monitoring Group T-shirt in the Hall of Fame.

The Peace Monitoring Group T-shirt in the Hall of Fame.

Peace Monitoring Group T-shirt

Peace Monitoring Group T-shirt

Interestingly the history of the T-shirt is closely associated with war in the Pacific.  The white cotton knit T-shirt was adopted as official underwear for the U.S. Navy in 1913.  The U.S. Army adopted it in 1942 and in 1944 they coloured the shirt khaki to camouflage with the extreme tropical environment of the South Pacific. 

We look forward to welcoming you all to the Museum this coming ANZAC Day to join with us in commemorating brave New Zealanders such as Corporal Douglas Hughes.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

From the poem for the fallen by Laurence Binyon

The Gold Panama Frog

Sir George Grey Bicentenary Series:  The Governor – celebrating the 200th anniversary of Sir George Grey

Entombed in a Central American grave for centuries, our gold frog, now sitting unpretentiously in our Ancient Worlds hall, has a long and sometimes mysterious history.

Gold Frog from the Sir George Grey Collection

Crafted around AD900-1200, this form of the flat-legged frog ornament is common in Costa Rica and Panama, and was probably made by the lost-wax casting method. The gold frog, along with several painted ceramic pots (also on display), are believed to have been dug up from graves in Colon on the east coast of Panama.

Pre-Columbian societies in this area are known to have displayed their wealth and power through use of gold, along with the construction of ceremonial centres and public architecture. The societies, which lasted until the Spanish conquest in the early 1500s, were religious, hierarchical and highly organized politically.

How these objects made their way from Central America into the possession of Sir George Grey is unknown, but it is possible that they were originally purchased from one of the many London artefact dealers that traded in curios collected from across the globe. It is known that some of Grey’s Maori artefacts were obtained in this way. We do however know that the gold frog was part of a large gift that Grey bequeathed to the citizens of Auckland in 1887, and that the frog, along with over 800 other artefacts, was eventually loaned to our Museum by the Auckland City Art Gallery in 1915.

Gold Frog from the Sir George Grey Collection

After sitting among our collections for 86 years, the frog was again in the spotlight in early 2001 when an unsuccessful attempt was made to steal it. Burglars broke in to the Museum at night and stole what turned out to be a worthless replica: the original was safely tucked away in one of our vaults. Even had the burglars been successful and stolen the original they might have been disappointed: the frog is made from a gold/copper alloy known as tumbaga (tumbago) rather than pure gold.

Our golden frog still catches the eye of curious visitors – and you can be assured that when you come to see our gold frog you’ll be viewing the original object!

Also see the Sir George Grey Bicentennial page


Despite the constant stress of deadlines, exhibits to mount, enquiries to be answered, research to be done and taonga to be carefully housed there is one activity we do that never fails to uplift and inspire us as museum staff.  It is an honour to work at the Auckland Museum and this is always made so apparent to us when we get to witness and be close to taonga that have graced this land for centuries.  This morning before all the hustle and bustle that is the School Holidays descended upon us, and with only the low hum of the cleaner’s vacuum as background noise, we witnessed the careful demounting of Tangonge.

Tangonge casts a shadow in the gallery this morning prior to be demounted.

Tangonge casts a shadow in the gallery this morning prior to be demounted.

Display and Collection Technicians Ged Wiren and Wayne Ferguson removing the carving from the case.

Display and Collection Technicians Ged Wiren and Wayne Ferguson removing the carving from the case.

This taonga, more commonly referred to as the Kaitaia carving, is currently being prepared for a visit to its ancestral home in the Far North. The carving is spending a year at the Te Ahu Heritage centre in Kaitaia under the care of Te Rarawa iwi and will return in autumn 2013.

Tangonge is probably one of the oldest carvings in New Zealand.   It was made only a few hundred years after the settlement of Aotearoa/New Zealand between the 14th and 16th centuries.   It is a hugely important carving that shows a phase in the development of Māori art from its origins in Polynesian styles.

The carving was rediscovered in 1920, hidden in the swampy waters of Lake Tangonge, near Kaitaia, when the lake was drained. Its importance was quickly recognised.

While its style strongly resembles carvings of the kind seen in the Pacific galleries, several of its features also show the beginnings of the unique Māori art that developed in Aotearoa.

The return of the carving to the Far North is recognition of the bond this taonga forges between the Auckland Museum as its custodian, the people of Te Rarawa, its spiritual guardians, and Te Ahu Heritage.

As our Pae Arahi, Haare Williams said after karakia this morning there was only one word to describe our task this morning and that was mana.  It is our privilege to be the kaitiaki for Tangonge and other taonga in our care and while it can be exciting to witness these activities this job also comes with enormous responsibilities.   Our greatest responsibility now is to prepare this taonga for its journey home to the north to connect with its ancestral home and to continue to empower and inspire present day descendants.

Heike Winkelbauer (Conservator) discussing the carving with Haare Williams (Pae Arahi).  Janneen Love (Exhibition Developer) and Bethany Edmunds (Lifelong Learning Educator) looking on.

Heike Winkelbauer (Conservator) discussing the carving with Haare Williams (Pae Arahi). Janneen Love (Exhibition Developer) and Bethany Edmunds (Lifelong Learning Educator) looking on.

April 12, 2012

Posted by:

Jeff Evans

All, Collections



Sir George Grey Bicentenary Series:  The Governor – celebrating the 200th anniversary of Sir George Grey

We are incredibly fortunate to hold a large selection of the Sir George Grey Collection here at the Auckland Museum. Originally part of a larger collection gifted to the Auckland City Council in 1887 which included manuscripts, maps, works of art on paper, paintings, books, an impressive array of Maori artefacts, as well as objects from wider Polynesia, Melanesia, Australia, South America and Africa, we look after over 800 irreplaceable and priceless objects, including over 400 taonga Maori.

Papahou named Turikatuku after Hongi Hika's senior wife (25203)

Papahou named Turikatuku after Hongi Hika's senior wife (25203)

Among the artefacts is a finely crafted papahou, named Turikatuku after the senior wife of the famed NgaPuhi chief Hongi Hika. Born in the late eighteenth century to Mutunga II and belonging to Te Hikutu and Ngāti Rehia, Turikatuku was probably in her late teens when she married Hika. She was the mother of at least two of Hika’s children, a son named Hare Hongi, and a daughter named Rongo, and later given the Christian name of Hariata.
In about 1816 she suffered an inflammation of the eyes, which left her completely blind. Despite this disability she took a full part in the activities of the tribe, including the cultivation of food. In fact Samuel Marsden, the chaplain of New South Wales, observed her in 1819 digging and weeding in Hongi’s kumara gardens at Te Puna, noting that she worked with as much, or more, efficiency as those that were sighted. As a mark of respect Marsden exchanged her wooden weeding tool with an iron hoe. Her weeding tool was subsequently sent to the Church Missionary Society in London.

It is known that Hongi never travelled or fought without taking Turikatuku as his chief adviser. His devotion to her is evident in the naming of this beautiful papahou carved with sinuous figures at the ends and characteristic northern style rolling spirals on the lid. It would have been used to store taonga such as rare huia feathers, pounamu ornaments and other small treasures. 

Provinence of the papahou glued to the underside of the lid, written by Sir George Grey.

Provinence of the papahou glued to the underside of the lid, written by Sir George Grey.

The papahou was given by Hongi Hika to Ngāti Tūwharetoa people living around Lake Rotoaira in the central North Island as a peace offering. In 1866 it was given by Hari Tauteka of Rotoaira to Sir George Grey.  The papahou Turikatuku is on display in the Central Maori Court, Museum Ethnology number: 25203. 

Also see the Sir George Grey Bicentennial page