Mātauranga Māori curator Dougal Austin offers an indigenous perspective on first contact between Māori and Cook’s men in Tamatea (Dusky Sound). In November 2016 I took part in a field trip to remote Tamatea, or Dusky Sound, in Fiordland. Together with natural history scientists including a designated photographer, our team spent 10Read more

I have found that studying patterns of wear on hei tiki can be quite revealing. Most hei tiki are made from nephrite pounamu, one of the toughest and most durable natural materials in existence. This being so I think we can safely assume that surface wear on hei tiki didn’t happenRead more

On 8th March I gave a talk at MTG in Napier about my research into the iconic Māori adornment hei tiki. The talk was to complement their recently opened and strikingly beautiful exhibition Pounamu. Link to NZ Herald article on MTG Pounamu exhibition, 24 December 2014   A diverse audience of aboutRead more

Something I will never forget is having once witnessed the making of fire using the traditional hika ahi or ‘fire plough’ method. This was about 9 or 10 years ago during a toki making wānanga held out at Hongoeka Marae, Plimmerton. Those of us present looked on with a senseRead more

For those of us working with the taonga Māori collections at Te Papa our work can sometimes also be a personal experience as we connect with taonga associated with the activities of our own ancestors and with places of cultural significance to our own people. It has been a littleRead more

What do they think of it? Kura Pounamu exhibition tours China Kura Pounamu, the largest exhibition of taonga pounamu or ‘Māori jade treasures’ ever shown at Te Papa, was displayed from September 2009 to July 2011. As curator for the exhibition a favourite past time of mine was to sitRead more