Friday, April 15, 2011

ever evolving actions

All of the items entrusted to museums are expected to be looked after. As many of you will know, I would return all taonga to Māori, unless they specifically state they are happy for the museum to continue to look after them, but even then I'd look at other alternatives - creating iwi museums and supplying expertise and advice to iwi when they ask so that they can empower themselves in their rohe, on their land. IMO the respecting of taonga we see in museums is more an offshoot of the colonising religion than traditional respect of mana and tapu. Mana to me is like the weight in a non-tippable doll. The weight provides the base but it also provides the impetus for action and movement. Mana is derived from the Gods and whakapapa and it is also derived from action and activities. Mana does not plateau and sit at a level - it is constantly going up or down based upon what is happening - and in tradtional times everything was conducted to enhance and strengthen mana. Taonga were hidden away but they were also used, in ceremony or significant tasks - to inspire the people and enhance mana. Taonga are a living, connected part of a community and are so much more than what they appear.


Professor Mark Stocker a art historian at University of Otago has uncovered artifacts, including taonga that were entrusted to a british museum, have ended up for sale on the open market. He says, "Our heritage is being trampled on ... I think it is rather extraordinary." He tried, but was unable to stop a sale over here.

However, it was also discovered that the pare and the pataka were about to be auctioned at Auckland art dealership Dunbar Sloane in September last year. Professor Stocker sought legal advice and told the police. The pataka was withdrawn from sale, but the lintel was auctioned and sold to a private buyer. He said the items reaching the open market raised serious questions about how safe historical treasures entrusted to museum collections could be.
Professor Stocker doesn't hold back in his conclusions
There were three possibilities about how the items came to be for sale, he said. Someone may have stolen them to make money, they may have been sold by accident, or they may have been sold with permission.
The fallout has started
British newspapers have reported Bristol museum director Mr Griffiths has resigned. British police are also investigating.

And some strong, true words by Professon Stocker
There was no way of knowing how many items had been sold or were on the market, Professor Stocker said. He was particularly offended about the intended sale of Maori artefacts, which he said showed disrespect towards the technical and spiritual qualities Maori artists brought to their works.

Thank you Professor Stocker for all your work in this area. Taonga are not to be bought or sold in an auction - they shouldn't even be over there - bring them home to their people - we need them to be home.

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