In five words, describe your place in the sector.
Brave, curious, redhead, conduit. Educator.
What first drew you to the sector?
When I was growing up in New Plymouth we went to Puke Ariki with my school, I remember being spellbound by the educator and I remember so clearly the feeling of standing in front of the tall glass case full of stuffed birds, the carpet under my feet, and the dark lighting. Dad also tells this story of my class going to the Govett Brewster and how all the kids and adults sat on an art work. I still touch stuff when no one is looking.
Years later while doing Maori Studies and Art History and working at Te Papa I was given an amazing chance (thank you Victoria Esson) to work on the Treaty2U bus as an educator, I met Conal McCarthy at this time and from then I was determined to do his Museum and Heritage Studies course and to work in the sector and continue to share stories and connect people with objects and places.
The exhibition Parihaka: The Art of Passive Resistance shown in Dunedin changed my life. But that’s another story.
What challenges have you faced in your career so far?
Getting bored in a job that wasn’t quite the right fit was a real challenge. I was administering legislation, I loved the tricky moments and working with people and I had some incredible moments. I was the first person to fly the Maori Flag at the National War Memorial, I helped community groups commemorate Waitangi Day all over Aotearoa, I helped family keep taonga safe and sound and I was the person who received the phone call about the Anaweka waka. But I made mistakes, I was really crap at filing. I do have regrets about not being good enough at my job and letting people down. I should have asked for help before I did damage, I was just lucky to have an incredible manager for a while who supported me (with her tough love) and gave me some skills to improve my work.
I have been so lucky that the Ministry for Culture & Heritage has supported me and given me this incredible role here at Pukeahu. I have been challenged to find a space where I can be a pacifist but also remember the dead and recognise the place Pukeahu has in the hearts and minds of many people. We must remember so we don’t repeat it, we must learn so we understand but we must also share and listen and honour different views.
My current challenge is the pressure to share this place with young people. I am all too aware that I am a kaitiaki of an incredible resource and getting students here is a challenge.
I’m looking forward to the challenge that we’re facing from communities about who & how we remember, teaching through the current korero around memorials and working on upcoming commemorations around Suffrage 125 and Tuia - First Encounters.
Has anything or anyone in particular provided you with support?
I am so lucky to have incredible women around me to lean on & lean into. Its small moments. An Instagram comment, a talk they’ve given and having the space to ask them questions, sharing, watching, being told off. I have been taught to do things with love and creativity, always.
Being a member of Kava Club has given me support. I’ve learnt how much space I take up and how I need to sit quietly and listen.
What do you think people at your own level bring to the sector?
I was talking to a friend the other day about how my peers share, how we look after each other. We talk, all, the, time, we discuss, write, share. If I think of my peers we’re pretty close, maybe too much so, there’s a whanau aspect, different roles, tuakana teina, but in the end its solidarity, a shared purpose that gets us through.
What is a positive change you would like to see in the sector?
I think it’s important in a sector this small that we look after each other. There is some awful patch protection going on, and disgusting gate keeping. People need to check their privilege, and that comes in many shapes and forms. Who are you supporting?
What is your karaoke song?
Pat Benatar – Love is a Battlefield (Editor: TUUUUUUNE)