Museum makes changes in Māori Galleries

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Saturday, April 13, 2024

Museum makes changes in Māori Galleries
Hatesa Seumanutafa, Associate Curator Human History (Māori and Pasifika) with a mannequin from one of the dioramas.

CHRISTCHURCH.- Members of Ōhākī o Ngā Tīpuna, the Museum’s iwi liaison group, and a group of Museum staff, gathered to share karakia and waiata before the removal process got underway. Puamiria Parata-Goodall, Kaiurungi (Chair) of Ōhākī o Ngā Tīpuna, described the ceremony as “an appropriate end to exhibits depicting a story that culturally and historically is not acceptable today”.

Canterbury Museum Director Anthony Wright said, “The dioramas will be completely dismantled later this year along with all our other galleries as we prepare to move out of the Museum for our major redevelopment. But after consultation with representatives of mana whenua and local Papatipu Rūnanga and on the recommendation of Ōhāki o Ngā Tīpuna, we have removed the mannequins now. We acknowledge it has taken time to come to this decision and we appreciate everyone’s patience.”

“The overwhelming majority of the feedback we have received about the dioramas concerned the mannequins and how they misrepresented Māori.

“The dioramas will continue to dominate the Iwi Tawhito – Whenua Hou and Ngā Taonga Tuku Iho o Ngā Tūpuna galleries, but with the figures removed changes have been made, in consultation with mana whenua, to highlight the natural environment Māori encountered when they arrived here. They also showcase taonga (treasures) that celebrate culture and mahinga kai (food gathering) practices.”

Representatives of Ngāi Tūāhuriri and local Papatipu Rūnanga are working with Canterbury Museum staff to develop Araiteuru, a new space at the heart of the new redeveloped museum where mana whenua will tell their own stories using the taonga (treasures) the Museum cares for in partnership.

“The redevelopment of the Museum provides us with a unique opportunity to revisit how we tell the stories of this place and the people who live here,” said Anthony Wright.

“Going forward mana whenua and the Papatipu Rūnanga will lead the telling of their stories to help shape the visitor experience so it appropriately reflects the history of Aotearoa and the stories that connect and bind us.”

Museum Chairperson David Ayers said the Museum acknowledges that dioramas presented a colonial view of Māori in Te Waipounamu (the South Island). The figures have been removed as a tangible acknowledgement of this.

“We have been listening to what mana whenua and the wider community have had to say. The overwhelming message is that this offensive and inaccurate depiction of Māori no longer has a place in the Museum.

“We are happy this issue has been resolved,” said Puamiria Parata-Goodall. “Our sights are now set on the opportunities the redevelopment project offers our region and communities to come to together and create a museum that speaks to all of us.”

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