Whakawhanaungatanga: Building relationships

In 2012 MTG Hawke’s Bay received a letter from the Minister of Culture and Heritage stating that Ngāti Pāhauwera wished to establish a formal relationship with MTG Hawke’s Bay. We responded to confirm our willingness to do this.

In July this year, MTG staff were able to take that relationship a step further, meeting a group of about forty Ngāti Pāhauwera kaumatua kānohi ki te kānohi (face-to-face). After calling the group into the MTG’s Ahuriri collection store, our Kaumātua Piri Prentice spoke in welcome.

Six of our Collections Team members had brought out taonga connected to the Ngāti Pāhauwera rohe as well as a selection of the many taonga we care for that do not have known provenance.

Ngati Pahauwera visit3Ngāti Pāhauwera visitors admire taonga from the HBMT Ruawharo-Tā-ū-rangi collection.

Ngati Pahauwera visitThe MTG Collection Team show the visitors a korowai from the HBMT Ruawharo-Tā-ū-rangi collection.

IMG_3508MTG’s Gail Pope, with visitors and archive highlights from the HBMT Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi collection.

IMG_3507MTG’s Tryphena Cracknell, looks at toki from the HBMT Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi collection with visitors.

For MTG staff, opportunities such as these allow us to enable the relationship between whānau and taonga. As with almost all museums, there will never be enough space to display the entire collection and for the team, this is the way in which we are able to maintain accessibility to the collection, for whānau, hapū and marae groups. We finished off with morning tea and an open invitation to return with more of their whānau.


Tryphena Cracknell
Kaitiaki Taonga Māori
August 2014

Rolling with the wallpaper

In late November of 2013 upon arriving back at the museum after finishing another busy year at Victoria University, I was given my project for the summer. My mammoth task was to go through a large box full of pre-selected wallpaper, catalogue it and enter it into our ever expanding collection.

The box of wallpaper was gifted to us by Betty Weeber. In the correspondence which accompanied the wallpaper; Betty Weeber wrote of the collection, “They are a record of old wallpapers that my late husband Raymond and his father used in their wallpaper hanging and Master Painters business”. Originally our gracious gift was of numerous boxes of wallpaper, but after a rigorous selection process by the powers that be, these boxes were whittled down to just one box containing over seventy examples. 

My job was now set out in front of me, I knew what I had to do, it wasn’t going to be pretty (believe me when I say this, some of the patterns on the samples were pretty ugly).  I now had to painstakingly document and catalogue each individual wallpaper sample, measuring the lengths and the widths, taking detailed notes of maker’s marks and manufacturer’s logos, describing in detail what the patterns were, what colours were involved in the pattern, gently vacuuming the accumulated dust and dirt from some samples, taking detailed notes of rips, tears and damage and then entering all this information onto our collection database system.

Wallpaper Border Sample, c.1920s, gifted by Betty Weeber, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 2013/63/25

Some samples were large, some samples were small, some were long (and I mean extremely long, like over nine metres long), and some were short.  Some were old and in bad condition, while others were, well, old but were still in extremely good condition, which is pretty impressive considering the majority of them date back to the time when Napier was being shaken to its foundations in the early thirties and some samples were even older. Some examples were hidden, rolled up inside other rolls of wallpaper, which added a surprising aspect to this particular task because, like a parcel in the game pass the parcel, you never quite knew what you were going to find once you started to unroll a roll.

What I found while cataloguing these wallpaper samples is they could be lumped into three different groups, the wallpaper frieze’s (for those reading this thinking “what’s a frieze?” Flash fact: a wallpaper frieze is the strip of wallpaper that goes around the top part of the wall where it meets the ceiling); wallpaper borders, which went around the bottom and the wallpaper drops, which are the samples used to cover the majority of the walls. The examples of the frieze’s were more often than not the examples in the worst condition as the perforations holding them together had come apart or were torn in places due to the continued unrolling and rolling of them over the years.

I also found that these samples and rolls came from all over the world, like Sunworthy and Canadian Wallpaper from, you guessed it, Canada; Crown Wallpaper and Shand Kydd Ltd from England; Griffen Wallpaper Manufacturers from America and even some examples from New Zealand’s very own Ashley Wallpapers.

After these steps the papers had to be photographed, which was done by our collection photographer. I then had to attach the photographs to their collection records and wrap them up and pack them into their packing units where they will stay until they are one day needed for research or exhibition.

2013.63.34bWallpaper Drop Samples, c.1920s, gifted by Betty Weeber, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 2013/63/34b

To be honest at the beginning of this project I didn’t think I would enjoy it, just because it was wallpaper that I would be working with, but the more that I worked my way through this box of wallpaper samples, the more I started to look forward to the next sample. Not because I was one sample closer to the end, but because I wanted see what the next sample would be like, and there were some examples that stood out. One example from the 1930s had a continuing pattern of dense blue tree branches and leaves, through the gaps in the branches and leaves was a bright orange background and scattered randomly throughout the branches and leaves were small yellow star-like flowers. Why this particular example stood out for me was probably because it was visibly the brightest example amongst the lot.

To say the least this project was awesome and I enjoyed it a lot. I consider myself quite lucky to be able to come back to the Bay and to the museum every summer to work on different projects. Hopefully I can come back again at the end of this year to another interesting project.

Tom Mohi
Collection Assistant
January 2014

Working my way to the top

At this moment I am sitting in a curatorial office, a place not accessible by the public, working on not only this blog but work that will be featured in the Ūkaipō – ō tātou whakapapa exhibition by Migoto Eria. I am a volunteer student from Hukarere Girl’s College learning the ropes of being an exhibition curator.


Once a week I spend the afternoon at MTG, working with Migoto and learning about the different aspects of a job as a curator. In the few weeks I have been volunteering at MTG I have gained a better understanding of the importance of artifact placement in an exhibition or the amount of care that is needed when handling these precious taonga.


To succeed in a career as a curator you must have a sharp eye for detail and be able to see things from another’s perspective, skills I only hope to improve while working with Migoto. However there is a lot of work that is not seen by the public, such as the researching, planning, meetings, graphs and charts behind the artifact you see in the display cabinets; if only you could see the photos, papers and sticky notes scattered around Migoto’s desk.


In my short time here I have seen how passionate these people are about their work, from Migoto and her fellow curators, to the design team who make so much of these exhibitions possible even the friendly people who welcome you as soon as you walk through the doors.

I would advise young people who are interested in a career path as a curator or museum worker to come down at check what’s happening at MTG, everyday I’m gaining experience and improving my skills that will help me in the future, I’m working my way to the top.

Maia Te Koha
Student volunteer at MTG
December 2013

The Journey Home

Curating MTG Hawke’s Bay’s inaugural taonga Māori exhibition Ūkaipō – ō tātou whakapapa has been a personal journey.

I returned to Hawke’s Bay for this position after 11 years in Wellington, studying and teaching, then editing Māori children’s publications.

There have been a new set of challenges working on research for my own iwi. It becomes a personal responsibility to ensure tikanga is respected as well as producing an exhibition that is of interest and inspirational. I have re-established relationships with those I’ve known throughout my childhood, with the intention that their stories are told appropriately and with respect.

I’m fortunate that I had previous networks in Hawke’s Bay before I even started. My mother was known for her work in the local community. Growing up here has been an advantage. The hapū we have been researching like to know someone’s grown up here and offered their time for the community.

When I go out into the community to talk about what we’re doing it is important to establish your hapū connections first. Make time to talk and stay for a cup of tea. The whānau and kaumātua have been really supportive of what have been doing with Ūkaipō – ō tātou whakapapa. They have been on this journey with us.

It’s been a unique process, and I’m glad that MTG management have been really understanding in allowing Kaitiaki Taonga Māori Tryphena Cracknell, Designer Desna Whaanga-Schollum and myself to maintain these relationships appropriately.

The concept of this exhibition came about quite organically and was one of three proposed concepts. Ūkaipō – ō tātou whakapapa seemed relevant for an opening taonga show and an appropriate opening introduction since the previous taonga exhibition Ngā Tukemata had stood for 22 years. Ūkaipō will be renewed after 12 months.

Migoto Eria_DSC5251

MTG Hawke’s Bay Curator Taonga Māori Migoto Eria, holds a pou tokomanawa from Tutira. This pou affiliates to Ngāti Hineuru, Ngāti Pāhauwera, Ngāti Tū, Ngāti Kurumōkihi, Ngāti Whakaairi, gifted by Mrs J Archer Absolom, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 75/239

People should expect something different with Ūkaipō – ō tātou whakapapa. The approach is relevant to current audiences, is inclusive and aims to accommodate wider age groups. Our point of difference in terms of taonga exhibitions is to remind people of their identity, upbringing and homeground. That is what Ūkaipō is, regardless of age or ethnicity.

What we would like is for our visitors to see themselves in this show, whether that be seeing photos of themselves when they were kids, or hearing their voices or the voices of their mokopuna. Rather than just seeing a carving, they will hear the descendants speaking about it.

The Waiohiki pou tokomanawa (interior carved ancestral posts) which were at the entrance of Ngā Tukemata are significant and identifiable by local hapū. These pou are included in Ūkaipō as it is important that these taonga are accessible to the iwi and the community.

There are two other significant pou tokomanawa going on display, one from Ahuriri and another from Tutira. I remember the Tutira pou very well. When I was young my whānau and I would come and mihi to this pou who is our tipuna and represents the descedants of Tutira. The pou was found in Lake Tutira in the late 19th Century by Guthrie Smith, and came into the museum collection in the late 1970’s.

These taonga have significant mana, and it’s been important to work the show around them. They have such a presence and people expect to see them. This is what Ūkaipō – ō tātou whakapapa is about – identity and whakapapa. This exhibition allows access to taonga and whakapapa, showcasing local stories, featuring local tipuna.

Ūkaipō – ō tātou whakapapa opens to the public on September 21.

– Migoto Eria, Curator Taonga Maori

Home – a major theme at MTG Hawke’s Bay

The re-opening in three weeks’ time has a sense of homecoming about it, for our visitors and Friends, and also for the collection which is returning from temporary storage.

Home has also been on our minds while we’ve been bringing together MTG Hawke’s Bay’s debut exhibitions. Take these with you when you leave – Treasures of the archive, Architecture of the heart and Ūkaipō – ō tātou whakapapa, all call on the idea of the home – being at home, making a home and homecoming. The idea of home means different things to different people but these exhibitions are sure to strike a chord with our visitors.

Take these with you when you leave – Treasures of the archive showcases unique and rare records from the archive, including personal belongings immigrants selected to bring with them when they moved to New Zealand such as bibles and icons, photographs of loved ones and landscapes, and sheets of music and musical instruments.

In developing the show, we’ve sensed how difficult it must have been for settlers to choose what to bring to their new land. But these tough decisions had to be made; there was only so much room and these were belongings which could not be left behind. Now stored in the archive, these objects were once very personal reminders of homes left behind. In New Zealand they helped new immigrants to create their homes here.

All of the objects are very personal and very poignant. Some tell quite profound stories and offer intimate glimpses into the lives of nineteenth century arrivals to Hawke’s Bay.

Architecture of the heart is an exhibition drawing on the treasures of the art collection. Developing the show has been a fantastic opportunity to open the door into the world of some of these paintings and consider how we can use them to think about the idea of home. There’s a universality to how people think about home, it’s a meeting point across time and across culture. These artworks give us an expression of this commonality and it’s intriguing to explore how the idea is represented in our collections.

We’ve all enjoyed the luxury of a long-term research project, meaning we’ve been able to really get to grips with the background stories of objects and artworks.

An example of this is the lovely story of Jenny Campbell and Roland Hipkins. The two painters met after arriving in New Zealand in the 1920s and then married here. While working on Architecture of the heart, we’ve been able to look at their work made as they discovered their new home country, and see their excitement in the potential of this place.

While ‘ūkaipō is sometimes translated as ‘home’, our new taonga Māori exhibition, Ūkaipō – ō tātou whakapapa, calls on a slightly broader interpretation of the word. Ūkaipō is about expressions of identity, and home is part of interpreting this kaupapa. Ūkaipō represents the home ground of our hapū, upbringing, childhood and learning.

This exhibition is about the hapū of Hawke’s Bay and we hope their stories will inspire others to think of their own ūkaipō. That’s not to say that this exhibition about the ūkaipō of te iwi Māori, but rather an example of how hapū of Hawke’s Bay express ūkaipō. It is an inclusive and universal concept that will be identifiable to wider audiences.

Lucy Hammonds, Curator Design Collections, Georgina White, Curator Social History and Migoto Eria, Curator Taonga Māori look forward to the opening of MTG Hawke’s Bay on the 21 September.

Lucy Hammonds, Curator Design Collections, Georgina White, Curator Social History and Migoto Eria, Curator Taonga Māori look forward to the opening of MTG Hawke’s Bay on the 21 September.

The MTG Hawke’s Bay redevelopment aims to offer an overarching sense of home. It provides a new home for the collection and for our staff as well as being a place that gives our community a sense of identity, a place to stand in, recognising where we’ve been and where we’re going.

We’re looking forward to welcoming you all home to MTG Hawke’s Bay on September 21st.

– Georgina White, Lucy Hammonds and Migoto Eria