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An Indigenous Approach to Curation Offers New Possibilities

January 11, 2017

New attitudes to taonga — study at Toihoukura gave Tash Hanara
exciting new ideas.

New Zealand museums hold many taonga – items treasured by Māori – and EIT’s Toihoukura offers a Māori perspective on their protection preservation and restoration.

Māori Performing Arts teacher Tasha Hanara (38) often witnesses the power of cultural reconnection to help young people get back on track.

“As a teacher I would see kids walk in with their heads down, but after a bit of learning about where they came from, their pride would come back, it transforms them.”

Aspiring to work with Māori taonga, the Ngāti Kahungungu mother-of-three enrolled in EIT’s Te Ara Pourewa (Graduate Diploma in Heritage and Museum Studies) programme.

“I wanted to explore how our intangible histories can be transposed into the museum world through performance. Museums are typically quite sterile and quiet, so I was interested in how performance could be brought into that.”

She chose to study at EIT’s Toihoukura because it has a museum and heritage programme that is delivered from an indigenous worldview.

Her hope is to create exhibits that engage all the senses, including kōrero tuku Iho – knowledge passed down from the divine – which informs the Māori world view through “connection
and intimacy”.

Tasha says her study at Toihoukura gave her some valuable tools to turn those hopes into a reality.

“Everything I learned through the programme and my research led me into different fields. There is a pa site we have at home – Oueroa Pa – which is really significant – there are three
little communities around it whose tipuna was born at the site but they don’t recognise how significant it is, even though we drive past it every day. Now my drive is toward getting it
registered as a heritage site, and maybe one day building our own wharetaonga there.

“For me, the link I can see in the whole transition from traditional museums is that intangible knowledge and how we promote it. It’s all related to the oral tradition.”