Among the millions of precious taonga in the Museum’s care can be found objects great and small. The waka are some of the largest, and they recently had to be moved between secure storage locations. This blog by Collection Storage Technician Craig Collier describes the journey.

Moving the Waka

Moving the Waka

In 2006-2007 some of the Auckland Museum collection was relocated to its new purpose-built on-site collection store. The Museum’s heritage building has a limited and complex internal footprint and as the collection store is below ground, access into it is limited by the size of the Museum’s goods lift. If an object is larger than the lift’s 7-metre length or 2.4-metre height, it has to go somewhere else.

As Collections Supervisor at the time, I proposed that we create a temporary large object store alongside the then-new underground carpark. Large objects could be moved into this space using the spiral vehicle ramp.

Since then, this secure, climate-controlled storeroom has housed the Museum’s 11 outsized waka and vaka, the geology collection, and other extra-large objects, until Manu Tāiko, the Museum’s newest off-site storage site had availability.

Manu Tāiko

Manu Tāiko

In Māori whakatauki, the Manu Tāiko is the sentry bird that stands watch at the edge of a flock, the kaitiaki of the forest and nest. The Museum named the new storage facility Manu Tāiko as a reflection of our obligation to respect and care for the objects and people that would be situated there.  

Manu Tāiko has been designed to maintain the essential functional requirements for museum storage and meet the highest standard of modern best practice. With the storage facility up to scratch, making sure each item is appropriately housed is the second part of the equation.

Snug, safe, and secure

Snug, safe, and secure

From tiny shells to animatronic moas, each item has unique storage needs. As some of the largest items in our collection, storing the waka was no small undertaking.

Our Storage Optimisation Managers designed aluminium open crates that were fitted out to nest individual waka for safe transport and then permanent storage in their new home. 

These custom-built aluminium frames are used for objects that are too large for a box, but too delicate for a pallet. 

Out with the O<sub>2</sub></br> in with the N<sub>2</sub>

Out with the O2
in with the N2

Prior to entering the general object store at Manu Tāiko, all objects have to undergo anoxic treatment to ensure they are pest-free. Normally, this would be done in the purpose-built anoxic treatment room but due to the extra-large size of the Waka, this has to take place in a tent specially designed by the Storage Optimisation Manager.

Anoxic treatment is the process where a sealed environment is filled with nitrogen until it contains less than 0.1% oxygen, in order to destroy any living pests. Objects are treated for up to four weeks to account for the lifecycle of insects, or any other creatures.

Once treated, the waka entered their permanent home in storage at Manu Tāiko. Here they are well cared for and protected for generations to come. 

Blog by Craig Collier, Collection Storage Technician, Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Craig with another outsized collection item: the animatronic moa