Paora Tibble

The man with the most idiosyncratic humour you've ever come across, the cheekiest wit and one of the biggest hearts, Paora Tibble. This sounds like an intro for a wrestler or something but it's hard to find the language to introduce someone who has such a precise grasp on it themselves, both in english and te reo. Through the organisation of our Kāhui Kaitiaki hui, I got to know Paora a bit better and he is always unwaveringly himself which is a breath of fresh air in a sector with so many huge personalities. One of the best parts of working with Paora is that you get to work with someone with a hugely empathetic approach to things and when shit hits the fan, he's always got a one-liner to diffuse the situation. Another thing about Paora, he's always got recommendations up his sleeve, if you need a new book / movie / tv show / kai / beer to try out, go see him. Nō reira, e te tuakana, i runga i ou mahi manaaki, ngā mihi nunui ki a koe.

In five words, describe your role in the sector. (The five word limit is for this question only)

He whakatutuki i te mana taonga.

What is it about the sector that you love?

The stories. Recently deceased kaumātua and Ngāti Raukawa pūkōrero Iwikatea Nicholson said, ‘Haria tō taonga hei hoa mō te kōrero ...’ It begs the question, what are taonga without their stories? People come to museums to connect to the present, the past and the future, through taonga, through story, through interpretation, through design, sometimes by accident, sometimes they’ve got the story. Sometimes they just come for the Free Wifi.

Now that I’m the Iwi Development Adviser, I hear stories all the time when I’m on the road (I organise/facilitate workshops with iwi & museums). I go to marae and museums all over Aotearoa. I get paid to be Captain Mihimihi (story teller/listener)!     

What have been some challenges in your career?

I was the previous reo Māori writer. If you can’t understand the English, good luck trying to translate it into Māori.

Trying to convince other people to your own point of view, when it’s blatantly obvious. Then I’ve had figure out, how to make it obvious for them.

What challenges can you see moving forward?

1.   Change is the only constant in the world we live in. But it seems like alot of people who work in Museums can be averse to this reality.

2.   Budget restraints – this impacts on the amount of good that NSTP can do.

3.   I’ll quote a colleague of mine, “Paora, taonga are easy. People are hard.” Sometimes it’s as simple as that, but we are complex beings.

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

Energy, enthusiasm, momentum, openness, possibility. It’s awesome meeting young Māori coming through the Museum sector. I think that it’s the responsibility of those of us who’ve been here longer to support the newbies. We need to remember what it was like when we first started out. If it was good, let the good times roll. If it was difficult, then we should show compassion and understanding of how hard it can be. Don’t be an A-hole, be Ace!  

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

Mona Lisa, then I’d sell it, get rich and tell people the story.