Guide to requesting Māori images

He aratohu mō te tono i ngā whakaahua Māori

Guide to requesting Māori images

Read this guide in te reo Māori


This guide helps explain the care Auckland Museum takes with requests to use images which depict Māori subjects and content, based on Māori cultural values and museum best practice, and in line with the Museum’s commitment to partnership through the Treaty of Waitangi.

You’ll find guidance on how to request these images together with an outline of our decision-making process and what you as a requester can expect. This process is intended to ensure Māori cultural values are upheld while also supporting people to access and use Māori images. All taonga housed in or under the care of Auckland Museum attracts this level of care.

An item is considered a taonga if it:

  • is a representation of a Māori ancestor; and/or
  • was directly associated with a known Māori ancestor; and/or
  • carries a Māori ancestral name; and/or
  • is considered of ancestral importance to the Māori descent group from where it originated; and/or
  • continues to carry Māori ancestral value*


* For example, unprovenanced weavings of Māori antiquity made from harakeke, kiekie or pingao like kakahu (garments), whariki (fine floor mats), kete (kits) and maro (aprons); and or any artistically carved or embellished items of Māori antiquity made from wood, bone or stone like pounamu (greenstone), patu (weapons), heru (combs) and hei matau (personal adornments).


Our Mātauranga Māori model for decision-making is based on three principles.

Principle One: Manaakitanga

Auckland Museum aims to increase access to and engagement with the Museum’s collections and stories through our collection. We take a positive approach by starting from an affirmative position — i.e. assuming access will be provided unless there is a clear reason why approval should not be given. The exception to this principle is images which are known to be restricted for cultural reasons.

We seek to ensure that requested images fit with the intended purpose and also ensure cultural obligations are not compromised.

Principle Two: Mana Taonga

The principle of Mana Taonga is about safeguarding the mana of the Taonga. There is also the potential to enhance the mana of the Taonga, when it is connected with the journey, stories and iwi it is related to.

Principle Three: Mana Whenua

This principle guides us in our obligations to our source communities, whether they are defined or implicit. Our duty of care is to uphold the mana of the communities that are associated with Māori images, no matter whether connections are active or latent.

We apply a wide understanding of ownership and do our best to identify all iwi interests and relationships. Where it is practically possible, we refer requests to the owners or relevant iwi/hapū if they are known. Our approach is to assist the requester in this endeavour where it is reasonable to do so.

Principle Four: Kaitiakitanga

Under the principle of Kaitiakitanga, a high level of care is given to all Māori images. Images that are considered to be sensitive include but may not be limited to:

  • All Taonga Māori, including those with known iwi connections and those of unknown provenance
  • Portraits, both known and unidentified
  • Images of people who have passed away
  • Hotunui Wharenui: All new images are controlled by the Taipari whanau; requests for historic images both in situ and in the Museum are managed in accordance with agreed guidelines
  • Stereotypical, exploitative, racially demeaning or offensive images, including those with known inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate and offensive names, titles or captions
  • Potentially provocative uses of an image, such as fringe religion, alternative art, or inappropriate use of images in a tapu or noa context


Under this principle, a peer-review process is undertaken if there is any question over an image request, or if a request is complex.


Image (right): Goldie, CF (1902). Te Aho, a noted Waikato Warrior. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PD-1951-1-18. Cultural permissions apply.

Requesting an image

Requesting an image

We use a Mātauranga Māori model for decision-making, and start by seeking the following information:

  • Details of the image or object
  • How the requested image(s) will be used
  • Iwi affiliations of the requester, where relevant


Our image order team will:

  • Work through the approvals process based on Mātauranga Māori principles
  • Advise on any rights the requester might need to seek
  • Aim to provide a response regarding the status of an order within one week of Receiving a request
  • Maintain a record of the request and decision
  • Maintain privacy of all requests unless the requester has given written permission to the contrary


To begin an image-order enquiry, please use our contact form.


We gratefully acknowledge the support of Ngā Taonga Film and Sound Archives New ZealandAuckland LibrariesHocken LibraryRotorua Museum, and the Alexander Turnbull Library in developing these guidelines and welcome feedback which will improve this service.

These guidelines are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which allows reuse, sharing and commercial use for any purpose, provided that the Museum is attributed.


Download a printable version of this guide


Image (right): The Māori Contingent gather on the beach at Gallipoli. Edward G. Williams Collection. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-ALB-212-p15-2. Copyright permissions apply.