July 01, 2021
Taonga will help tell iwi histories
The Ministry for Culture and Heritage’s new senior Māori historian wants to see more of the way physical taonga can unlock stories.
Matariki Williams has taken over the Pou Hītori Māori Matua role from Dr Monty Soutar after working as curator matauranga Māori at Te Papa Tongarewa, where her mahi included co-writing the award-winning book Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of Resistance, Persistence and Defiance.
She says a major focus of the new mahi is helping iwi tell the stories of their settlements in their own words for the online Te Tai resource.
She says while at Te Papa she was working with physical taonga, which she says are strongly linked to intangible taonga like waiata, whaikorero and pakiwaitara.
"What I would love to see in future iwi narratives on Te Tai is a really rich expression and inclusion of our taonga and of our artworks because there's that old adage, a picture tells a thousand words, and so do our taonga. There's so much korero wrapped up in every piece of carving, every piece of raranga and whatu and in the work of our contemporary artists," Ms Williams says.
She says Māori are at the stage of reclaiming their histories and pushing back against some of the narratives that have come through the schools.
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