Ati Teepa

I've written before about how influential my Tūhoe tuakana have been for my mahi and Ati Teepa is no different. Even before I started working at Te Papa, I loved the work that Ati was doing - who else can pull of events as distinct as a drone race festival and a rooftop party at the museum? This doesn't even cover the huge amount of mahi that he's undertaken over the last few years with his collective Kava Club either. Aside from all of that, he's a link home. Ati's better than telling me what's going on back home than my own whānau is (hi whānau, hope you're not reading this ktk). And then aside from all of that too, he's bloody fun to work with! Full of ideas and energy and an unending willingness to throw ideas around. So yes, he carries on the tradition of having a Tūhoe tuakana who makes my time at mahi that much easier and a million times better.

E kore e mutu ngā mihi maioha ki a koe e Ati.


In five words, describe your role in the sector.

The five –tanga’s (or –tana’s if your Tuhoe like me).

Manaakitanga, Whanaunatanga, Kaitiakitanga, Maramatanga, PokeTheTongueTanga.

What is it about the sector that you love?

Our taonga and the people I get to work and engage with in my mahi as a public programme specialist.

What have been some challenges in your career?

Biggest one was self-doubt. I have no formal museum / art history/ history qualification and working in an academically driven and informed institution, I felt like an invader. Also, like many indigenous people, I viewed these places as where our taonga go to die. So straight away in my mind I am the outsider, I acknowledge now I set my own self up to feel this way. What I realise now is being a creative community focussed politically woke Tuhoe I have heaps to offer these spaces. Just not a degree in museum something or a MA in art wank. Lol.

My fav whakatauki says ‘Hongihonia te whewheia, ka warea te ware. Ka area te rangatira | By knowing the enemy, liberation is yours.' In this case the enemy was my own self-doubt.

What challenges can you see moving forward?

A challenge I have set for myself in my role is engaging with the non-visitor. As a public programmer we have the opportunity to connect the non-visitor, with the museum and the taonga within.  Setting myself this ambitious challenge also means being willing to take some risks, which is necessary in order to connect with someone living with mental illnesses. This is challenging for risk averse organisations like a museum.

I am super specific when I am developing programmes in the museum that if I work with external communities like iwi, or say the drone racing community that my role becomes that of an enabler. Basically I help open the doors and unlock the resources of the museum to help them tell their stories, to present their mahi, or to pull off a museum drone race. By enabling these audiences we can help make a connection, hopefully give them the space and a sense of ownership of the museum and its taonga.

What do you think people in the early stages of their careers can offer the sector?

Community. Rep your own bad selves. Often our communities need someone to be their insider and that could be you. 

In a museum of Ati, what is an object / taonga / specimen / artwork that you'd want in the collection?

Ha, lucky for me it already exists. It called Te Urewera!