Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho Episode 3: Tukuna Kia Rere


Heritage organisations like galleries, libraries, archives and museums (sometimes abbreviated to the GLAM sector) hold enormous amounts of mātauranga Māori in safekeeping. But that safekeeping can be a double-edged sword, when the people who want to access taonga don’t know where to start. Catalogues are not always easy to use, and just walking into an institution can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. How do you find out where the item you’re looking for is being stored, or if it even exists?

Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho is a five-part online series about the practice of archiving taonga Māori. It was produced and directed by Kahu Kutia and funded by Te Papa Tongarewa. Host Khali Meari Materoa explores some of the cultural treasures held by Aotearoa New Zealand’s museums and galleries, and demystifies some of what goes on behind the scenes for aspiring researchers. Each episode focuses on a different heritage institution, and to make Episode Three, Khali and crew visited us at Ngā Taonga. She met with Maimoa Toataua-Wallace, a Kaitohutohu Mātauranga Māori – Mātauranga Māori Outreach Advisor, who spent the day showing her around the Archive. The following blog is by Maimoa, who writes first in te reo Māori then in English about the shoot and the taonga he and Khali shared.

Mai and Khali select a videotape from the vault. Photo by Renati Waaka

Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho rangitaki nā Maimoa

Kia whai ngako ai ki te ia o ēnei kōrero me hoki whakamuri au ki tōku whānautanga mai ki te ao tūroa i te tau 1998. I whānau mai au i raro i ngā rekereke o te maunga whakahī rā, a Taranaki, ā tāria te wā ka hūnuku tēnei ki te riu o Waikato, ka whai tūrangawaewae ki tōna kāinga, ki Kāwhia. Nāwai rā, nāwai rā kua heke whakararo mai tēnei ki Te Whanganui-a-Tara, hei Kaitohutohu Mātauranga Māori ki tētehi o ngā tūwāhi e kaha pupuri ana i ngā taonga nō te ao a ō tātou kaumātua, tūpuna, arā, ki Ngā Taonga Whitiāhua Me Ngā Taonga Kōrero.

I te taenga mai o Khali ki Pipitea kātahi anō te tāutuutu o ngā taonga. Te tāutuutu taonga mā te harirū, te kōrero, te whanaungatanga, te mātauranga, ka mutu ngā taonga whitiāhua hoki. Ko ētehi o ērā taonga he kura whākina hei whiua ki te rangi kia kitea e te ao, ko ētehi anō he kura huna hei mea pupuri, hei mea kaingākau.

I whakaatungia e māua ētehi whakaaturanga whakahirahira ki a māua anō. I whakaaturia e Khali tētehi whakaaturanga Waka Huia o Reporua, tōna kāinga. Taku mīharo ki te whakarongo ki ngā kōrero mō tēnei whenua haumako me ngā kōrero a ōna kaumātua. I whaakaturia e au tētehi taonga whitiāhua o te whakatūwheratanga o tōku wharenui ki Waipapa, a Taku Hiahia i te tau 1990.

I reira hoki te mahi a te kaumātua o aua wā rā, pērā i a Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu, a Nanny Huamānuka Pikia, a Koro Rua Cooper, a Koro Pumi Taituha, ko te nuinga o rātou kua whetūrangitia, rātou mā te hunga rongonui mō ō rātou mōhiotanga, mātauranga, kōrero tuku iho.

Khali between takes. Photo by Renati Waaka

E kōnatunatu nei te ngākau ki te whakaatu i tēnei taonga, anō nei he kanohi taiaha. E rua kē ngā taha o te taiaha nei. Ko tētehi taha e meatia nei taku korenga i te whakatūwheratanga o tōku wharenui, tē taea te whakarongo ki ngā karakia me ngā kōrero a ngā kaumātua, ka mutu ko taku korenga ki te pōwhiri mai i ngā manuwhiri ki mua i taku wharenui. Koia nei ngā take i noho pātata tēnei whakaaturanga ki te whatumanawa. Ko tērā atu taha o te taiaha e tute nei i taku whiwhinga nui ki te mātakitaki i ēnei rangi whakahirahira, ahakoa taku tamōtanga – kua āhei taku titiro anō ki ēnei taonga, kua tūhura hoki te ara kia tohaina, kia whakamahara i te motu i ēnei taonga ā rātou.

Ko tētehi o ōku tino aronga ki tēnei mahi ko te tomonga. He take nui kia tomongia e ngā whānau, hapū, ngā iwi, me Aotearoa whānui ki o rātou ake taonga – kia whai mōhiotanga hoki mō ngā taonga nei. I ngā mohoaotanga, i ngā nohoanga tawhiti o ngā whānau ki tāwāhi rānei, ka noho tonu nei ngā kohinga hei hononga mā rātou e noho tawhiti atu, kia tūhono mai anō. Mō te wāhanga ki a Ngā Taonga he whāinga hei anga whakamua te tomonga o ngā taonga ki te tūmatanui. Kei ngā ringaringa o ngā kaipupuri o nāianei ngā kō hei keri i ngā huarahi mō ngā iwi kia tūhono mai anō ki a rātou taonga. Mā ngā kaupapa pērā i a Utaina me Rokirokitia e kitea nei te whakatinanatanga o ēnei hiahia.

Kua whai hūmarietanga ahau nō roto mai i te kohinga nei o Ngā Taonga. Ka ū mai he ata o te wiki mahi, ka mau te wehi i te haumako o ngā taonga nei me ngā kura ō roto. Kua ngākau whakaiti anō i te kitenga o tēnei whakaaturanga whakahirahira nei a Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho e whakatewhatewha ana i ngā hononga o mātou te iwi Māori ki ō tātou taonga tuku iho, kōrero tuku iho anō hoki.

Maimoa and Khali at Nga Taonga. Photo by Renati Waaka.

Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho blog by Maimoa 

In order to understand the meaning of this kōrero, I have to refer back to my birth in 1998. I was born under the heels of Taranaki maunga and eventually, I would find myself in Waikato, closer to a place I will always consider a home or a stronghold – a kāinga, in Kāwhia. Now I’m here, in Te Whanganui-a-Tara as Mātauranga Māori Advisor at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, a space where the stories and lives of many are projected and resurfaced through light in moving images, and through sound in audio recordings.

When Kahu and Khali arrived in Pipitea, it was an exchange of taonga. Taonga was shared through hongi (the exchange of breaths), kōrero (speech), whanaungatanga (relationships), through mātauranga (knowledge), and of course, taonga shared through moving images. Some of which are taonga to share and others are taonga to hold on to. These are kura huna and kura whākina – treasures to be hidden or kept, and treasures to be displayed or shared.

We each shared an item that is important to us. Khali shared with me a special Waka Huia episode of her stronghold in Reporua – it was a true delight to hear some of the stories of her iwi and marae. I shared with Khali a video of the opening of my wharenui Taku Hiahia, Waipapa at Kāwhia in 1990.

Watching old footage can be emotional. Photo by Renati Waaka

There were many kaumātua who were present at this event; Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu, nanny Nora Huamānuka Pikia, Koro Rua Cooper, Koro Pumi Taituha, and many more who have since passed away, the likes of which you often hear about growing up – their leadership, their iwi and hapū knowledge, their baskets of mōteatea (traditional laments) and karakia (incantations) almost seemed endless.

In sharing this taonga I am also conflicted. There are two sides to this coin. On one side, I am unfortunate in missing out on the opportunity to attend the opening of my wharenui. I missed out on the opportunity to hear the kōrero and karakia of many of my kaumātua, and among many other things, I missed out on the opportunity to welcome our manuwhiri (guests) in front of our wharenui. These are but many of the reasons why this taonga is held in my highest regard. The other side of the coin is that I am also very fortunate. Although I was unable to attend in person, I am able to witness these events digitally and remind myself of their significance, while having the opportunity to share these again with their uri (descendants).

One of the most important parts of my role within the Archive is accessibility. It’s important that whānau, hapū, iwi, and Aotearoa have access to their taonga and know that they are present. In moments of isolation and for whānau overseas, the archives remain special for whānau who don’t have direct access to their kāinga or mātauranga. For the Archive, this is also an ongoing improvement navigated through the hands of the present archivists and kaimahi of Ngā Taonga with tools like the Tiakina Kaitiaki Relationship Framework. This ensures that taonga from its physical state can easily transfer to digital and later be uploaded onto our online catalogue with appropriate permissions. Through projects like Utaina and Rokirokitia, we can see the materialisation of this ambition for increased public accessibility.

Discovering some of the taonga Māori held in the vault. Photo by Renati Waaka

I continuously find myself humbled by the collection of Ngā Taonga, and those feelings are reinvigorated again through this new series Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho which investigates the connections we have as Māori with our taonga and kōrero tuku iho (oral traditions).

Watch the rest of the series on the Te Papa website

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