Cook Islands Ma’uke community first to be hosted in Auckland Museum’s community-led gallery
A new community-led gallery called Te Taunga Community Hub has opened at Auckland Museum, with the first exhibition presented by Auckland’s Cook Islands Ma’uke (Akatokamanava) community.
In the exhibition, Te Mekameka o taku Ipukarea: The Treasures of my Homeland, members of the Ma’uke community share how their taonga reflect their rich heritage and culture and how they have made a home in Tamaki Mākaurau. Last Saturday members also lead their own craft and music activations at the Museum to celebrate Cook Islands Language Week, including dance, vivo (nose flute) and To’i Rakau (wood carving).
Every item on display in the exhibition is chosen by the community to tell their story, from the treasures themselves, to the labels, the signage, and the lighting.
“It’s emotional for me watching the Mauke community make these interpretive choices and supporting them to ensure we tell their story how they want their story told,” says Head of Learning and Public Programmes Kath McGhie.
“They’ve moved beyond programming activations and thinking about display angles of taonga to adding photographs of their knowledge holders on the labels which makes the whole experience even more personal to the community.”
Te Taunga Community Hub is a dedicated space for diverse communities of Tāmaki Makaurau. The Akatokamanava Enua community is the first of a series of communities that Te Taunga Community Hub will host over the next two years. The Sudanese community of New Zealand will follow the Mauke group as the next programmers of the community hub space.
McGhie says the concept for the new gallery reflects the Museum’s aspiration to be a place of belonging, welcome and celebration for all Aucklanders.
“We have created a space where the welcome of a particular community is vital in authentic story telling about their culture and identity,” she says. “It places the community first. Leading the stories of their history in their own voice is crucial to indigenization; connecting communities with their taonga that is the larger story we’re telling at the museum.”
Te Taunga Community Hub is in the space formerly occupied by the Museum Store in the Grand Foyer of the Museum. The new space is part of Auckland Museum’s wider renewal of its public spaces, which is nearing completion. Entry to the exhibition is free for Aucklanders.