Migoto Eria

Migoto is someone I've actually known for over ten years now as she was my te reo Māori lecturer way back in 2005 (showing our ages!). Her name popped up again when I was studying my Masters and the programme director, Conal McCarthy, told me of a Curator Māori who was expanding the way in which taonga Maori could be interpreted, something which I've always admired as it pushes matauranga Māori forward. He was talking about Migoto. In more recent times we have become colleagues, working as curators at Te Papa where Migoto and I have worked closely together and she's provided a whole bunch of moral and curatorial (and emotional haha!) support. This week however, is poignant timing as Migoto is moving into a new role as Pou Whirinaki-a-Iwi in the National Services | Te Paerangi team. It's bittersweet, but I'm genuinely happy for you Migoto, you'll do an amazing job in the role supporting iwi Māori and kaitiaki Māori throughout the motu. Ngā mihi aroha ki a koe e te tuakana i runga i ngā mahi awhina i tukuna mai e koe. Catch you at GRIT!

In five words, describe your role in the sector.

He kaikawe taonga tawhito mo te iwi.

What is it about the sector that you love?

Something I've really enjoyed about the sector is interaction with all sorts of people from various backgrounds who are here for the kaupapa of kaitiakitanga. This kaupapa extends far beyond collection objects, as I've learned, that kaimahi who are passionate about looking after their taonga happen to be the same in looking after one another. The potential of the kaupapa is only realised if we also understand the potential between ourselves as kaimahi of our taonga. Ko te manaakitanga te mea nui, it is empathy that goes a long way. This is something I've noticed and learned in past projects and exhibitions, as it is mainly to do with relationships and the people attributed to the taonga in our care. It is the iwi and whanau relevant to the taonga who are a priority. Ko matou kei te tiaki i a ratou me a ratou tupuna.

What have been some challenges in your career? 

In the last few years through various museums I've found I've constantly disappointed myself with inflated expectations of cultural knowledge and understanding in Aotearoa. Although I've worked hard at listening and understanding first, constantly clearing my perception-slate, its remarkable that terms such as bicultural, or cultural or seldom used indigenous are supposed key perfomance indicators. As kaimahi Maori, working within museums in Aotearoa, its difficult to be diplomatic in so many instances where we are constantly being asked to justify, rejustify and re-educate others within the sector of the basics. Kia kaha tonu tatou!

What challenges can you see moving forward?

Of course if we are to move the matauranga, the taonga and this practice into the future, this means change, new perceptions, new technology and so forth. Perhaps this is a hidden opportunity rather than a challenge to empower upcoming kaimahi Maori in our museums, in order to stay relevant and interesting to our audiences. Visualising our taonga in 30 years, ko nga kokonga ngakau e kore e kitea!    

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

People starting out in their career within museums offer a fresh perspective, relevance, and new energy in a world where everything is old, relic, ancient and about the past. Sometimes the environment unfortunately takes on the ‘old’ persona which means things become slow, tired, inaccessible and archaic. Relevance keeps us cutting-edge, desirable and keeps our visitors coming through the door.

What is your spirit animal?

I cant get a tiger out of mind right now so am going to fly with that.