Urbanlife: Youth Connections, Collections and Community in Tamaki Makaurau

In 2012, Urbanlife is taking Auckland Museum beyond its walls and out into urban communities to activate rangatahi responses, giving them tools to effectively inform positive development in Auckland City’s urban landscape; and develop their perspectives and creative solutions towards Auckland city being “the most liveable city” for youth.
On April 19th we were excited to launch this kaupapa and privileged to host our first wave of youth participants, and the talented and dedicated artist mentors who will be facilitating workshops to produce multi-disciplinary creative responses to youth issues, and encouraging our rangatahi to think about possibilities for their future

This initiative aims to foster tuakana/teina relationships between museum staff, youth mentors and established artists; and young people in the greater Tamaki Makaurau region. The project will explore nine threads over two years, represented by rangatahi from unique pockets of demographic, geographic and creative output, allowing participants to develop their identity, strengthen existing and new relationships, and build skills and talents.

Starting with our Pictorial Collections as a source point of inspiration, a lens to make connections to rest of the collections, we hope to create opportunities for youth of descendent communities to make visual connections to taonga and heritage treasures housed at the museum.

The projects so far…

Banks florilegium and Arthur Isles photography – Ngati Whatua rangatahi – Environment – Graff-mural – Aotearoa hip-hop pioneer DLT (Darryl Thompson)

DLT and CHE FU – Chains

Early maps, tapa and masi patterns, and Noele Sandwith sketches – South Auckland youth – Culture – Spoken word – South Auckland Poets Collective founding member Grace Taylor

FRESH: Brown and Around – South Auckland Poets Collective

Robin Morrison Collection and whakapapa records – Te Korowai youth from West Auckland – Education – Documentary Photography – Photographer Te Rawhitiroa Bosch

Smart Thinker: Te Rawhitiroa Bosch

Weekly News archive and the Identi-Tee exhibition – Central Auckland Youthline advisory group – Employment – Screen-print t-shirts – Popohardwear’s Siliga David Setonga

Siliga Setoga Creative Native FRESH 11 Feb 2012

Gallery spaces and feminist photographers Margaret Matilda White and Una Garlick – Massive Company’s Central and South ensembles – Economic Well-being – Devised theatre techniques – Massive mentors and tutors

THE BRAVE – Week 3: \”Who would you write a letter to?\”

The Herald and the Sparrow photographic collections – I AM GI youth – Housing – Soundscape – Hip hop producer Anonymouz

ANONYMOUZ Showreel 2010

Tangonge – The Return.

Tangonge … the karanga, keening calls of women opened the threshold for us to step into the ancestral meeting house at Pukepoto in Kaitaia where we were greeted by elders, the children of the school and departed whanau members whose photos line the walls.

Mihi King, Tehei Deanna Tamaariki, Roy Clare, and Haare Williams.

Mihi King, Tehei Deanna Tamaariki, Roy Clare, and Haare Williams.

You know there are moments in life when one can set aside as “ … I was there,” and Tuesday  in Kaitaia has to be one of those moments in life for me.  Call it serendipity or by any other name it still smells and feels like magic. First, Albert Walters sat between Roy Clare and myself; he was introduced as the grandson of the man attributed to ‘finding’ Tangonge, further more Dr Bruce Gregory and Hekenukumai Busby (kaumatua) pointed us in the direction of the discovery back in 1921.

Hekenukumai Busby and Gina Harding receive Tangonge at Pukepoto Marae.

Tangonge at Pukepoto Marae

Dr. Bruce Gregory, Roy Clare and Haare Williams.

Dr. Bruce Gregory, Roy Clare and Haare Williams.

This was followed by the grand entry into Te Ahu, The Kaitaia Heritage Centre as it prepares the taonga for the official opening this Saturday.  The other stand out has to be the perfectionism of our staff as they worked late into a long night, just to get a tiny beam of light in the right spot to catch the spirit and antiquity of a taonga come home.

Tangonge at the Te Ahu, The Kaitaia Heritage Centre.

Haare Williams offers a karakia to the group prior to the install of Tangonge at the Te Ahu, The Kaitaia Heritage Centre.

In all of these settings, reverence radiated around Tangonge, the kind or radiance that, apart from pulling communities together,  will inspire mokopuna, rangatahi and a community to come.  It’s journey continues …

Hoki atu e te taonga, hoki atu ki to kainga tuturu.  Haere atu ra.


Will ye marry me? The contents of a mysterious chest

In 1969 North Shore man Stanley Hunt lifted an axe over his shoulder and swung its blade down hard on an old wooden chest. As the casing splintered into shards of kindling, sheaves of paper and parchment fluttered out from a secret compartment that had been exposed by his blows.

Click to view translation

Will Ye Marry Me - Click to view transcription

After years of concealment, an odd assortment of papers was revealed, all written in Scotland between 1727 and 1834. Here was a list of accounts, birth and marriage testimonials, rental receipts, details of an annuity and, most peculiar of all, a rhyming advertisement for a wife written by a man in Forfar jail (click on the image on the right for a large version with a transcription).

Whose were these papers? Most of them related to either James Cowie or his son John from Auchterhouse, Angus (Forfarshire), Scotland. One document concerned the Earl of Airlie, David Ogilvy, of Cortachy Castle.

Stan Hunt had found the chest abandoned in a shed when he bought his North Shore property. He contacted the previous owner who said the chest was given to her by her father, but she did not know how he had come by it. Its origins remain a mystery. Stan gave the chest to Motat who passed it on to the Auckland Museum where it is in the care of the manuscript’s librarian Martin Collett.

Martin says secret compartments were fairly common, especially in Scottish chests. It is most likely chest came to New Zealand from Britain in the 19th century, but there are still other possibilities as well, such as, Nova Scotia in Canada.

The papers tucked away for posterity inside may never have been exposed to the New Zealand sun before Stan Hunt picked up his axe to render an old chest into kindling.

As for whether any woman was so taken by the advertisement, we may never know. If you happen to know anything about the Cowie family in New Zealand or Scotland please let us know.