National Services has been holding Taonga Conservation workshops on marae throughout New Zealand since 2007. They are a collaborative effort by NSTP and the local iwi.
The purpose of the two-day workshop is to assess iwi taonga, and prepare storage containers to house the taonga for future safe keeping.
The workshops were in two parts:
• Rangi Te Kawana (Conservator textile) was the tutor for the wrapping and packing of different types of taonga. Examples of taonga brought along by whanau members were: kahukiwi (kiwi cloaks), piupiu which have been in family care for many years; and beautiful kete, pendants and items which uphold mana and whanau pride.
First, Rangi assesses the objects, then plans and helps the whanau construct their very own, unique storage items for these precious taonga. The construction of these containers is exacting work but, with the majority of workshop participants being weavers and carvers, the quality of the finished work is top class.
• Vicki-Anne Heikell (Conservator paper) is the tutor for the care and packing of paper taonga. Iwi members are taught the techniques of correct handling for paper taonga, the correct way to pack and protect paper taonga, and the methods of constructing containers and folders for future storage.
Like Rangi, Vicki-Anne first assesses the condition of the paper objects before demonstrating different construction techniques. Some of the objects brought along are early text books, whakapapa manuscripts, atlases, and pictures.
Something worth noting here was the tono (request) from both Rangi and Vicki-Anne for the need for rangatahi (young people) to take up this important mahi. I would like to reinforce this message: we need young people to look to the museum sector as a career. People like Rangi and Vicki-Anne need young people to train and to carry on the good work.
These workshops are a two-day intensive learning experience where the focus is 'hands on’. The participants are taught the different techniques and encouraged to then return home and show other iwi members (with support from Te Papa) the correct techniques and methods to prepare taonga for storage for generations to come.