My research focuses on museums, community agency, and scientific imaging for conservation teams. The posts below are a progress bar on current research, projects, and learning. This is ongoing research, so please contact me with any advice/ideas/questions. Out of respect for the Rongowhakaata iwi and their ownership of Te Hau-Ki-Turanga, I have not included any photos of the meetinghouse in this section of the website.
RECALIBRATING THE MUSEUM: THE POLITICS OF STEWARDSHIP AND THE PHYSICAL/DIGITAL REPATRIATION OF TE HAU-KI-TURANGA
Brief summary: In July 2012, New Zealand’s Parliament passed the Rongowhakaata Settlement Act, which returned ownership of the Māori meetinghouse Te Hau-Ki-Turanga from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa back to its indigenous iwi, Rongowhakaata. The transfer of title set in motion several important developments for both New Zealand’s bicultural government and the intangible and tangible redress of Māori cultural heritage. This dissertation is an inquiry into the politics of stewardship, or care of cultural heritage, and related issues, concerning in particular, the control of conservation and interpretation at the local, national, and international levels. The history of Te Hau-Ki-Turanga’s creation, preservation, and display constitutes an important case study through which to address core questions that explore New Zealand’s history of struggles with power, control, and indigenous self-determination. Key questions include the following: How are New Zealand’s indigenous communities challenging and contesting the very definition of a museum and its role in modern times? Can indigenous self-determination exist within a Western museum infrastructure? Can such a museum ever be truly post-colonial? Through three Te Hau-Ki-Turanga projects taking place between 2017 and 2020, the Rongowhakaata iwi is working both within and outside the New Zealand national museum to develop alternative models for reconnecting the meetinghouse with iwi descendants and disseminating information to the public on the iwi’s own terms. By looking at the case study of Te Hau-Ki-Turanga, we can begin to uncover the entangled power relations between New Zealand’s bicultural government and its Pakeha and Māori populations from the early nineteenth century to the present day.
Key words: indigenous agency, conservation, digital repatriation, computational photography, community restoration, photogrammetry, national museums
My role: My personal role through the PhD has been working with the museum and iwi on creating a full 3D conservation documentation record of the meetinghouse, through photogrammetry and laser scanning technologies, training Rongowhakaata iwi members on 3D imaging techniques for sustainable long-term conservation/preservation practices, and tracking and 3D imaging several carvings from the meetinghouse that ended up in collections abroad like the British Museum and National Gallery of Australia for a digital repatriation project that will allow for a virtual representation of the correct genealogical order of ancestral carvings within Te Hau-Ki-Turanga.