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Te Awe – a window into our taonga Māori collection

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Te Awe – a window into our taonga Māori collection

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Letting people see inside our Museum stores and giving others a chance to connect with and gain a better understanding of our taonga collections is all part of the thinking behind our new space Te Awe.

© Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Located on our ground floor just around the corner from our He Taonga Māori gallery, Te Awe offers a window into the ‘behind the scenes’ of the museum and will allow visitors to observe how we care for our collections.

Named Te Awe, it is the first public-facing major project initiated by Future Museum. Te Awe describes the tufted decoration on a taiaha, a weapon of hard wood. It also means strength, power and influence. This name refers to the adornment on taonga in the collection and the mana they hold. The name also speaks to the work of this project – to improve our care of the taonga and enhance the knowledge associated with them.

This project will help revitalise the Māori galleries and other spaces in collaboration with iwi and other communities, enhance research at the Museum and provide richer experiences for visitors to the Museum onsite, online and offsite.

Starting with the Museum’s vast collection of hei tiki, the Te Awe team will digitise and record, in more depth, the taonga for future access via an online database.

© Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Auckland Museum Director Roy Clare says: “The Museum has relationships with iwi, hapū and whānau right across Aotearoa New Zealand and we look forward to deepening these as we work to honour the taonga that has been entrusted to our care through many generations.”

Te Awe also sees the addition of five new staff who will work solely with the taonga over the next three years. They include three collection technicians, a storage technician and a dedicated Māori collection conservator. (Make sure you smile and wave if you’re passing – it can be a little unnerving working in a glass room for all the world to see!)

This team will utilise the latest technologies so that the processes are in keeping with the museum’s responsibility to provide the best care, protection and access to the taonga. The intention is that taonga will be conserved, documented and photographed and the data will be digitised in a record that will be available to iwi, hapū, whānau, museum staff, and researchers and in many cases the public at large.

We look forward to bringing you more information on the Te Awe project along with introductions to the team in our upcoming posts.

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