French Connection – Lisa Renard, intern at Te Papa

French Connection – Lisa Renard, intern at Te Papa

Lisa Renard- Te Papa intern from the University of Strasbourg, France

Lisa is a PhD student and studies at the University of Strasbourg in social and cultural anthropology with Prof Denis Monnerie. She is also a Teaching Assistant and Lecturer.

Lisa was interning at Te Papa for two months, from October to November. She worked with us to develop the Ngāti Toa Rangatira iwi exhibition and also a little translation work on articles for the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation team. Lisa’s interest in Māori culture began about five years ago, when she was embarking on her first Masters in Social and Cultural Anthropology (she later gained another Masters in Museology). A friend suggested that she look no further for a society to study-as he had just returned from a visit to Aotearoa and was impressed by the strength and richness of Māori culture.

Her studies opened the door to a deepening interest in all things Māori. However, living across the other side of the world was a challenge. Lisa had to work and save hard to afford to come to Aotearoa to fulfil her dream of really learning about Māori life and customs. It started when she met Christina Wirihana, master weaver and now the Chair of Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa and a Principle Tutor at Toi Houkura, School of Visual Arts, Tairawhiti, Gisborne and Tamahou Temara, Operations Manager for Toi Māori Aotearoa while an intern at the Volkenkunde Museum of Leiden, Netherlands for 3 months in 2011. At that time, the museum was exhibiting the Mana Māori exhibition. Christina, Tamahou and others of Toi Māori were there to support the commissioned waka Te Hono ki Aotearoa there and the education programme in association with the exhibition. Last year, Tamahou asked Lisa to be an interpreter for the Māori delegation at the historic repatriation of 20 Māori tīpuna (toi moko) from various museums in France, at the Quai Branly museum in Paris.

With encouragement from Christina, Lisa asked to intern with us at Te Papa because of her studies on kākahu Māori and museology.  Lisa proved to be an invaluable help to our team and endeared herself quickly to many of our colleagues. Lisa stayed with Tamahou and his whānau in Wainuiomata during her time in Wellington. She also accompanied Tamahou on his various Toi Māori events and openings, such as the weavers hui, meeting many artists and practitioners. Tamahou is quite famous for his love of hunting and wild food gathering skills. Many an occasion has been supplied with the delicacies of kaimoana (sea food),  wild venison and pork by Tamahou. Learning traditional food gathering, preparation and forest survival has been some of the highlights of Lisa’s experience in Aotearoa. Needless to say, Te Papa cannot compete with an education like that, deep in the mist shrouded valleys of Te Urewera hunting deer and possums with Tamahou and a week of weaving next to the tranquil waters of Rotoiti, at Christina’s home.

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Down at Kaipārera with Öhinemataora (Whakatane) river flowing in the background:Ruatāhuna, Tuesday 29 October 2013. Photo and caption courtesy of Tamahou Temara.

Lisa (on right) in a Ngati Toa exhibition team meeting

Some of the Ngāti Toa Rangatira iwi exhibition team at Te Papa. Lisa Renard on the right. Wednesday 20 November 2013

We are grateful for our short time with this amazing scholar, our “patu” and staunch advocate for kaupapa Māori. We wish Lisa safe travels, all the best for her studies and look forward to seeing her in the near future!

Awhina Tamarapa

Curator Māori, Museum for the Future


  1. Awesome write up and images.. It Was a privilege to meet and work with this wonderful Lady Lisa at the weavers hui in Kawerau, Toihoukura and Our resourcing trip up the coast with Tina Wirihana.. Thank u Tamahou nd Toi Maori 4helping2bring this lovely lady 2our shores, I hope to see u again sn my friend.. Until then take care, all the best with your mahi and thanx 4sharing your positive attitude 2wards life and learning with us..

    1. Nice story, well done Tamahou. True to form te manaaki tangata ahakoa ko wai, ahakoa no hea. I know you had the best cultural experience ever Lisa even lined up next to you at the pohiri for Arapeta I think lol…and you were fitting just like heaven lol…it was a pleasure meeting you at Te Papa hope to see you again soon….

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