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Ngati Porou interns to seek out taonga

Identifying and accessing Ngati Porou taonga (treasures) held at three of the country's cultural heritage agencies is the basis of a new 10-week Ngati Porou archive internships programme.

Archives NZ, National Library of NZ and Nga Taonga Sound and Vision will each host a Ngati Porou intern, who will research, review and archive Ngati Porou taonga.

The internships are part of the Ngati Porou cultural heritage strategy developed by Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou's taonga advisory board.

Advisory board chairwoman Ani Pahuru-Huriwai said she was excited about how the internships would support the tribe's Maori language plan.

“The care, preservation and access to Ngati Porou taonga held in the various whare taonga here and around the world is becoming critical, as with each passing year we lose more and more of our native speakers.

“Our interns will be an important key to unlocking the door to many kilometres of taonga written in te reo Maori,” said Pahuru-Huriwai.

“There is a willingness by the crown agencies to not only engage with us, or to realise the intent of the letter of commitment, but also to repay a great debt owed to Ngati Porou for the contribution our tipuna (ancestors) like Ta Apirana (Ngata) made to the cultural fabric of this nation.

“These internships continue the work Ta Apirana started in terms of gathering, reviewing and caring for our taonga tuku iho (heirlooms),” she said.

The Ngati Porou taonga advisory board has met with management from National Library, Archives NZ, Nga Taonga, Te Papa Tongarewa, Heritage NZ, Digital NZ and the Department of Internal Affairs for the last two years.

They have developed a work plan to give effect to the letters of commitment, which are part of the Ngati Porou Treaty settlement around access to taonga.

“The internships are a huge step towards consolidating our relationship with Ngati Porou and developing a template for how the Crown work with iwi with letters of commitment post-settlement,” said Richard Foy, the chief archivist for Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kawanatanga.

“We value our relationship with Ngati Porou and are looking forward to hosting our intern,” said Foy.

The internships have been funded by Te Matawai and will be managed by Radio Ngati Porou.

Ngati Porou was the first cab off the rank in terms of incorporating letters of commitment into its Treaty settlement, which requires cultural agencies to open their doors and provide access to taonga.

The interns, Maria Wynyard, Lady Pokai and Mahinaarangi Manuel, will identify taonga for the Ngati Porou exhibition at Te Papa Tongarewa in 2024.

■ Te Matawai is an independent entity set up under Te Ture mo Te Reo Maori (the Maori Language Act) to promote the use of te reo in homes and the community.

The organisation was established in 2017. It is led by iwi and the Maori community, but has ties to the Crown, with two of its 13 board members appointed by the Maori Development minister and the rest appointed by iwi and Maori language stakeholder organisations.

NGATI POROU INTERNS: From left, Archives NZ chief archivist Richard Foy, Nga Taonga Sound and Vision acting chief executive Honiana Love, National Library of New Zealand Librarian Bill Macnaught with Ngati Porou interns Maria Wynyard, Mahinaarangi Manuel and Lady Pokai, after a whakatau (welcome) for them at the National Library on Monday. Picture by Llewelyn Jones, Imaging Services, National Library