Preservation of heritage inspires scholars

Museum and Heritage Studies Masters students and 2019 Te Papa Memorial Scholarships recipients Laureen Sadlier and Jessie Bray Sharpin
Museum and Heritage Studies Masters students and 2019 Te Papa Memorial Scholarships recipients Laureen Sadlier and Jessie Bray Sharpin
Three Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington postgraduate Museum and Heritage Studies students have received scholarships to pursue their studies this year, helping to preserve taonga and enriching current and future New Zealand museum practice.

Director of the Museum and Heritage Studies programme Professor Conal McCarthy says, “We are excited to see the results of the work that Awhina Tamarapa, Laureen Sadlier, and Jessie Bray Sharpin complete thanks to the generosity of the British High Commission and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.”

Four people stand next to an art tableDoctoral candidate Awhina Tamarapa (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāti Pikiao) travelled this summer to the United Kingdom to research the maintenance of Māori weaving as a living cultural practice.

This trip was funded by the scholarship He Whai Mātauranga awarded by the British High Commission. It supported travel by three Māori students from local universities to research Māori taonga in United Kingdom institutions.

“My primary aim has been to interview specific museum staff about their experience and perspectives on the subject, and to observe the operations of their museums in terms of the care, management, and access to Māori weaving in their collection,” says Awhina.

“It is deeply rewarding to have agreement from museum staff to work together, which has been an immediate outcome of the scholarship. Being able to reconnect to the taonga in these museums is also a huge privilege.”

In addition, Two of the University’s Museum and Heritage Studies Masters students have recieved the 2019 Te Papa Memorial Scholarships, named for founders Cliff Whiting and Cheryll Sotheran.

Recipient of the Cliff Whiting Scholarship Laureen Sadlier (Ngāti Porou) will use her scholarship to support her work on a business proposal to build cultural capacity within the museum, art, and heritage sector using Te Papa-curated iwi shows.

Laureen’s work as Registrar at Pātaka Art +  Museum in Porirua has informed the goals for her Master’s internship. “We are currently hosting Whiti Te Ra! The Story of Ngāti Toa Rangatira, which travelled here from Te Papa. We employ Ngāti Toa rangatahi Te Rauparaha Horomona to lead and teach the histories to school groups and tour groups.

“This experience has led me to explore how Pātaka can provide a basic museum training programme specialising in collection management for Ngāti Toa rangatahi using the iwi exhibition and Pātaka’s object and art collections.”

Jessie Bray Sharpin is the recipient of the Te Papa Cheryll Sotheran Scholarship. Jessie says, “My Master’s thesis is investigating the marginalisation of textiles in museum collections because of their association with women and the domestic.”

She will be focusing on the textiles collection at Broadgreen Historic House in Nelson as a case study, because she says, “I wondered how this incredible collection had ended up relatively unknown in a regional historic house museum.”

Laureen Sadlier and Jessie Bray Sharpin were awarded their scholarships at a ceremony at The Marae in Te Papa on Thursday 30 January.