New archive and training centre

CHRISTINE WALSH
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2014

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A new Taranaki Maori archive research and training centre is set to become a base for Maori wanting to research their whakapapa.

A strong sense of cultural pride was in the air during the opening of the new Te Pute Routiriata o Taranaki centre in New Plymouth.

About 50 people gathered to bless the $350,000 facility, which is a Te Reo o Taranaki Charitable Trust initiative, at Witt on Monday.

The centre will house and display historical and significant taonga of Taranaki Maori, and also aims to be a base for Maori to research their whakapapa with the guidance of the trust's skilled team.

Trust manager Claire Hall said whanau, hapu and iwi wanted somewhere safe to hold, keep and display their treasures in a way sensitive to Taranaki Maori kaupapa.

"It is a massive achievement to now have a physical archive of our own," Hall said.

Kuia Harimate Tutakahi Teua Telford is proud to be enrolled in the new oral history and digital archiving course, and says the centre will also quell her fears about where some of her whanau's treasures can be housed securely.

"I cried tears of happiness during the blessing because I am so happy that anxiety has been eliminated for me," Telford said.

Archive development co-ordinator Keri Wanoa said the idea for the centre originally began in 2007 after the trust created an online database of the region's Maori archives held in the National Library and other institutions.

"The response from that gained momentum and highlighted the necessity for somewhere like this," Wanoa said.

Kuia Whero Bailey is entrusting a significant collection to the centre and has long had a passion for archiving stories of old.

She attended a course at Victoria University in 1972 where she learnt how to make audio diaries, and not long ago it hit her just how much she had accumulated.

"It's been a silent dream of mine that one day we would have such a facility. I began to worry about what I would do to preserve all these things securely," Bailey said.

Trust manager Mitchell Ritai said archiving was a strategic priority for the Te Reo o Taranaki Charitable Trust.

"The facility stemmed from our community wanting a centralised archive, and it will continue to evolve as we continue to preserve our te reo from the past as we go forward," he said.

The project took seven years of hard work, consultation and planning.

As well as digitising countless historic manuscripts, members of the trust spent the last three years fundraising for the project. It is situated on the Witt campus but is a separate entity and funding from the TSB Trust, Lotteries NZ, and Parininihi ki Waitotara helped make the charitable trust's vision for a centre a reality.

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Christine Walsh is a Witt journalism student

- Taranaki Daily News

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