The Ockham Lecture series is an annual programme of lectures and panel discussions that critically engage with craft, design, and architecture. Director of Audience and Insight Puawai Cairns recently presented her Ockham Lecture in connection to Tīhāte!, a project in the Objectspace exhibition Pohewa Pāhewa: a Māori design kaupapa which demonstrates how t-shirt design outcome is used by Māori to show affiliations, share protest messages, and commemorate important moments. Puawai is a co-author of the book Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of Resistance, Persistence and Defiance, along with Curator History Stephanie Gibson, and then Curator Mātauranga Māori Matariki Williams. Here we’re reproducing some of her kōrero from the lecture as well as contributions from Stephanie Gibson about some of the tees that are featured in the book and why museums collect them as taonga.Read more

I recently spent a week on Norfolk Island collecting ferns. One non-fern plant I was particularly keen to see was harakeke (Phormium tenax), on which I’ve done recent genetic work. On Norfolk Island it is known as flax, so I’ll use that name here. What I hadn’t appreciated before the trip was the significance of flax to the settlement of Norfolk Island.Read more

It has been over two years since Aotearoa New Zealand went into lockdown in the hopes of limiting the spread of Covid-19. While not yet behind us, we are now in a position to be able to reflect on those early stages of the pandemic. Throughout this time a myriad of responses were put into place with the community at the very centre. Master of Museum and Practice Student Kate Hudspith-Gooch spent a one-month internship at Te Papa, and was tasked with conducting a small-scale research project into one of the lesser-acknowledged responses to the pandemic – iwi-led Covid-19 Checkpoints – as a part of the ongoing Making Histories: Communities and Covid-19 Project. Kate talks about her research here.Read more

The star Waitī (Greek: Maia) is associated with all freshwater, and food sources that are sustained by those waters. Curator Mātauranga Māori Matiu Baker talks about a connection to this whetū in our collections.Read more