This is a story from our monthly newsletter, Heritage this Month.
Niki Partsch | Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington
Last month a conservation wānanga hosted by Te Papa Tongarewa and supported by our Māori Built Heritage team included practical workshop sessions on how to clean, repair and restore tukutuku.
Whānau from Tangoio marae travelled to Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington to attend the opportunity. Tangoio marae was severely impacted by the relentless rains and flooding damage caused by the February 2023 severe weather.
A whirlwind of emails, texts, and phone calls criss-crossed the country through the days and nights of Cyclone Gabrielle’s surging destruction. Clearing skies and early light revealed the extent of flooding all along the eastern coast of Te Ika a Maui North Island, deep into the Hawke’s Bay area.
The networks developed prior to the cyclone made for fast, targeted communications and actions, to enable support during early recovery.
NEMA and other emergency services personal were deployed to the area, and Dean Whiting, our Kaihautū was contacted by marae trustees asking for help to assess the damage to the whare tupuna at Tangoio.
“The good news is that these taonga will be able to be restored thanks to early advice and actions,” says Dean.
Jamie Metzger, Kaiārahi Te Papa says, “We realised that our response to Cyclone Gabrielle needed to consider the recovery of cultural heritage. In particular, those taonga that are made from paper or fibre which are more vulnerable to water damage.
“Now we have developed a number of resources with practical advice that can be mobilised quickly to increase the chances of a successful recovery.”
Our Pouārahi Tautiaki Taonga, Jasmine Hemi, was there to support the recent workshop at Te Papa. “We set up a ‘conservation lab’ in their wānanga space, for the whānau to see the types of equipment and techniques we use when working in a marae-based work environment.”
The Māori Built Heritage team and whānau were brought through Te Papa's conservation labs which Jasmine says provides, "Important insights into how institutional conservation is undertaken and offer a collaborative approach to finding solutions and tools that could be beneficial in the restoration process."
They also made a trip to visit Zealandia Te Māra a Tāne to wānanga the harvesting and preparation process of the fibrous native kiekie plant used for making and repairing tukutuku panels.
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga and Te Papa are part of Te Ara Taonga, a network of five key taonga specialist agencies. The other three agencies that make up Te Ara Taonga are, Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga, the National Library Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, and Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.
While the agencies are constituted differently their collective expertise links together well and is invaluable when combined as they work closely with iwi and with other government entities.
The experience of Cyclone Gabrielle provided te Ara Taonga with new opportunities to utilise their networks. Along with a raft of learnings came opportunities for enrichment, like the recent opportunity to present at the NEMA Summer Training Camp, which you can read about in one of our earlier story pieces.