Heritage work under the spotlight

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Regional Services Director, Pam Bain, was guest speaker at the Historic Places Tairāwhiti AGM on 26 August in Gisborne.

As a former member of the local committee, and a well-known archaeologist, there was no hesitation in being introduced by the committee with the words that she was “no stranger to digging up the dirt”.

Prior to joining Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga as senior archaeologist, Pam had spent 20 years working as an archaeologist for the Department of Conservation. She became Regional Services Director, now Gisborne-based, following a reorganisation of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga.

The focus of her AGM speech at the Tairāwhiti Museum was on community engagement projects Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga has been involved with, Suffrage 125, Māngungu Mission anniversary commemorations, Waitangi Day activities and other important events, with the aim of engaging new audiences with heritage stories and places. 

“My passion for telling heritage stories, and why this is important, is the basis of my current role as Regional Services Director,” says Pam. 

“They include the amazing stories that come out of the regulated archaeological authority process which are not often available to the public. The outcomes of this process tell detailed and interesting stories about the early settlement of New Zealand. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to be involved in sharing these stories with the communities they relate to.

“Understanding the history of New Zealand and how it has shaped our identity as a people and as a country, I believe, is essential to going forward without repeating the issues of the past.”

Pam was involved with regional staff and Ngāpuhi in nominating the Kerikeri Mission Te Reo slates for inscription on the UNESCO's Aotearoa/New Zealand Memory of the World Register.

“These slates are significant early examples of te reo written by Māori women around 1830. Through this kind of project we can increasingly focus nationwide on making heritage accessible and interesting to a wider audience,” says Pam.