© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Ngāi Tahu and Archives New Zealand partnership celebrated to preserve shared heritage

Keefe Robinson-Gore
Ngai Tahu Archive Chair v2
Centre: Athol Andersen (leff) and Tā Tipene O'Regan (right)  Tamara Bisseker, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu

In a New Zealand first, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and Te Rua Maraha Archives New Zealand, have partnered to preserve the iwi’s taonga.

The partnership was marked with a mihi whakatau to welcome Ngāi Tahu taonga, and archive staff, to the new state-of-the-art Archives New Zealand facility in Wigram.

Most of the Ngāi Tahu Archive, which includes the collections of the Ngaitahu Maori Trust Board, the records of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and the personal papers of several tribal leaders, has been moved to the new purpose-built site.

Tā Tipene O’Regan is the chair of Te Pae Korako, the Ngāi Tahu Archive governance group. He said the relocation was an important step in Ngāi Tahu's development and sincerely thanked Archives New Zealand for its continued support.

"If Ngāi Tahu want to be a tribal nation, if we truly want to own ourselves, we have to own our own memory. We have to be the primary proprietors of our own heritage and identity."

The Ngai Tahu Archive v3

The Ngāi Tahu archive is stored separately and is cared and conserved for by Ngāi Tahu Archive staff members. Collections are open to all iwi members by appointment.

O’Regan said when the Ngāi Tahu archive was established in 1978, there was no way to predict how technological changes would shape the way records were accessed and stored, and that there remained more work to do on the archives' extensive paper record.

The Ngāi Tahu archive is responsible for preserving the history and memory of the iwi. It has produced websites that share and reinforce this memory such as Kā Huru Manua tribal atlas mapping over 1000 traditional place names. Another site, Kareao, is a digital archival database that has been touted as an international exemplar for indigenous communities.

Tekerei Norton, Archive Manager for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu speaks to the importance of the tribal mapping project, Kā Huru Manu.

"The team's move into this Archives New Zealand facility provides us with the opportunity to build on the existing knowledge and dedication of our kaimahi to preserve and protect our people's histories and heritage in the best possible way. This will ensure that our taoka (taonga) are safe and accessible to anyone who wants to see them," said O’Regan.

Stephen Clarke, Chief Archivist Kaipupuri Matua at Archives New Zealand, acknowledged the significance of the relationship.

"This is a wonderful example of the bicultural principles expressed in Te Tiriti o Waitangi in action, where a Crown agency is working alongside Ngāi Tahu to support the preservation and access to their taonga," he said.

Ngai Tahu Archives Team