Te Ataakura: Re-connecting voyage collections in archives and museums through the creation of digital taonga

This project draws together in digital form taonga exchanged during European voyages to Polynesia between 1765 and 1840. The digital format helps increase knowledge of the collections and reconnects iwi with their taonga held in archives and museums worldwide.

Principal Investigator Dr Wayne Ngata has developed associations with institutions, principally museums, and fostered a close relationship with the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge University, UK over the past 10 years. Support from NPM led to this particular project starting in 2010.

The project team which includes IT specialists are creating digital surrogates of taonga. The digital repository, called Te Rauata, of these treasures will be launched later this year.  They are also creating an iapp and a hand-held resource, Te Kopaeata.

The team is  participating in current debates on virtual repatriation and the ownership and control of digital taonga, and emphasises the roles such ‘virtual’ artefacts now play in relationships between those to whom they ‘belong’ and the institutions who have physical custody of the collections.

“This project is about revalidation and reclaiming our taonga. We have had to consider issues of ethics, IP and copyright, and find some middle ground for negotiations with museums,” says Wayne. “In addition, the technical issues are complex, so we are building our own capacity to deal with these ourselves.”

Journal articles
Ngata, W., Ngata-Gibson, H., Salmond, A., (2012) Te Ataakura: Digital taonga and cultural innovation. Journal of Material Culture. Vol. 17 no.3 229-244.

Project Team: 

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