Maori digital atlas presented


‘‘Exhuming’’ the culture from records was discussed during a talk at the Pacific Crystal Palace in Wanaka last week.

Called Mapping the Ancestral Landscapes of Te Waipounamu, the Festival of Colour Aspiring Conversations session comprised of Ngai Tahu Archive team members Takerei Norton, David Higgins, Helen Brown, Suzanne Ellison and Sir Tipene O’Regan.

They presented their digital atlas called Ka Huru Manu, which revealed trails, placenames, maps and the social history of the area, making information more accessible to iwi and the local community.

Sir Tipene said one of the aims after the long process of settlement was to start an active process of rebuilding heritage, ‘‘of exhuming it from the various records that had survived’’.

Information from the Crown, books, libraries, archives, as well as personal recollections were all part of the material held in the digital atlas.

In 1978 the Ngai Tahu Trust Board with the assistance of the University of Canterbury Macmillan Brown Library established the Ngai Tahu Archive.

It had a number of different incarnations subsequently, some helpful, some not so good, but it was ‘‘really quite remarkable’’ what had been achieved, Sir Tipene said.

‘‘We are both the envy and object of inquiry of all sorts of distinguished people.’’

This included the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, Norway’s Sami University, as well as tribes in Canada, the United States and Australia.

‘‘We must remember to remember.’’

Ngai Tahu Archives manager Takerei Norton said the website at was available for everyone to search.

The mapping project had occurred over the last 15 years, ‘‘working with all of our 18 marae, all of our communities, mapping our histories and place-names’’.

It was important to acknowledge that the atlas was built on the work of previous generations, Mr Norton said.

‘‘This is truly an intergenerational project.’’

There were close to 6000 place-names on the map but this was not the end of the project.

‘‘But there is still a lot more material we haven’t looked at yet.’’

Ancient trails . . . A packed audience gathered at the Pacific Crystal Palace in Wanaka last week to hear a talk on mapping the ancestral landscapes of Te Waipounamu. PHOTOS: SIMON HENDERSON