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A Sunrise at Mitimiti (after Hone Tuwhare)

April 1st, 2014 By Vicki-Anne Heikell
Sunrise at Mitimiti.
Sunrise at Mitimiti, looking toward the Warawara Forest. Photo by Vicki-Anne Heikell.

Taking care of collections can be overwhelming. The National Preservation Office Te Tari Tohu Taonga provides preservation advice and training to iwi, hapū and whānau. This includes marae-based workshops with the aim to provide practical preservation advice so whānau can care for their own collections in their own communities.

Kānohi ki te Kānohi

Recently I travelled to the Tai Tokerau to deliver a preservation workshop in collaboration with Te Papa National Services Te Paerangi.

We were warmly welcomed onto Mātihetihe Marae at Mitimiti; a small coastal settlement nestled between the Hokianga and Whangape Harbours and the Warawara Forest.

Mātihetihe marae, showing the main buildings, including the church.
Mātihetihe marae: Whare kai, Ngā Ringa Rau o TeAkau Te Whare Hui, Tu Moana; Church – Hato Hemi. Photo by Vicki-Anne Heikell.

Mitimiti may be remote but the local community who keep the home fires burning are special, the landscape spectacular and the history visible and present.

Participants of the workshop in a group photo.
Workshop participants. Back: Anne Tewake, Vicki-Anne Heikell, Kamira Martin, Josephine Taua, Gavin Reedy, Michael Hall, Matilda Bercic, Andrew Kendall, Karen Tahana, Dianne Kendall, Mary Bercich. Front: Henry Tahana, Peter Martin (Mingo), Evelyn Barber, Kura Kendall, Joe Adams.

If Mitimiti sounds familiar it may be that you know Hone Tuwhare’s poem, A Fall of Rain at Mitimiti.

E moe, e te whaea: wahine rangimarie
Mountain, why do you loom over us like that, hands on massive hips?...

It is the birth and resting place of Ralph Hotere and the subject of one of his lithographic works Tangi at Mitimiti (1984), inscribed with a poem by Cilla McQueen.

Pai ake te whai kia tika i te tuatahi tēnā ki te whakatika i muri atu

The workshop was held over two days with the NPO presenting the best ways to preserve whānau collections. This included a discussion on storing items in the ‘best’ plastics, which are chemically inert like polyester, polypropylene and polyethylene and to avoid the ‘bad’ PVC plastics for long-term preservation.

However it is the ‘do not laminate’ advice that garners the most sighs as participants recall the items they have laminated in the mistaken belief that it will preserve their item, only to find that it is irreversible and eventually causes damage to the item.

Over the years I have realised that New Zealander’s penchant for DIY extends also to the ‘repair’ of photos, documents and books with Sellotape, electrical insulating tape and masking tape the most popular fix-it materials. Unfortunately these cause lasting damage and staining.

The workshop emphasises that less really is best and better to put an item in a preservation quality folder or sleeve for safe-keeping than attempt any type of repair.

Nāu te rourou Nāku te rourou

An important aspect of the workshop is teaching participants to make preservation quality folders and boxes to protect their collections.

Preservation quality materials are paper, card or board that is ‘pH neutral’, often referred to as acid-free. The workshop participants worked in pairs to construct a made-to-measure four-flap folder for their own items. Measure twice cut once was the catch-cry for this session.

Mary Bercich and Evelyn Barber measuring their book before making their four-flap folder.
Mary Bercich and Evelyn Barber measuring their book before making their four-flap folder. Photo by Vicki-Anne Heikell.

At the conclusion of the workshop participants had made a preservation quality folder for their own item, and their challenge from the NPO was to pass on their preservation knowledge and practical skills to at least one whānau member.

Te Papa photographer Michael Hall’s professional experiences were shared with seminars covering both the theory and practice of taking good photographs from landscapes, to hui and gatherings and portraits. Copy photography was demonstrated using the images and taonga that whānau had brought to the workshop.


A workshop doesn’t just happen and the groundwork and relationship building done by NSTP Iwi Development Officer Gavin Reedy meant the Library and Te Papa were warmly received by the whānau of Mātihetihe marae.

Andrew, Karen, Anne, and Dianne examining whānau items as part of the workshop.
Andrew, Karen, Anne (obscured), and Dianne examining whānau items as part of the workshop. Photo by Vicki-Anne Heikell.
Vicki-Anne demonstrating making a four-flap folder with Karen Tahana and Dianne Kendall.
Vicki-Anne demonstrating making a four-flap folder with Karen Tahana and Dianne Kendall. Photo by Michael Hall.

The National Preservation Office is part of the Alexander Turnbull Library’s Outreach Services team, which provides oral history advice and training. We also connect users in the greater Auckland area to Library collections through our online resources.

Get more information on preserving your own collections, or email us at preservation@dia.govt.nz.

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Mike Sue Hayes
26 February 2016 8:06pm

Just wanting to now if the whanau Mohi , or any descendants of that whanau will be at your
forthcoming hui at Mititi Marae in April 2016

Mike Sue Hayes
26 February 2016 8:03pm

Just wanting to now if the whanau Mohi , or any descendants of that whanau will be at your
forthcoming hui at Mititi Marae in April 2016

12 February 2016 2:52pm

I would like to take part in one of these hui,maybe Te Unga Waka in Tamaki.

Karen Tahana
25 May 2015 6:22pm

It was so good meeting Gavin Ready after all the time we shared emails and talks on the phone. It was an eye opener for me and yes I did all the wrong stuff with storing photo's thankyou to all of the team AWESOME and we all learnt so much that we can all share with our Whanau now.

Gavin Reedy
4 December 2014 4:12pm

A big impact that workshop had on me, the remote marae rich with history, whakapapa, people and visiting an old friend Matiu Hotere (senior) up on Mount Zion-Hione (RIP) also sitting a while with Ralph Hotere (RIP) during the twighlight hours one afternoon. I did write a poem that Ill dig out and put it up
To Uncle Joe from whom we learnt of the old ways when whanau worked hard to survive in happiness together how they used to ride 4 up on the horse hard out up the beach to the mussel possi. (we got us a bucket-Hone Tuwhare would of liked those)
Tales of conflict, love and whakapapa
Pa Henare Tate heard we were in the rohe and come and spent the afternoon with us adding stories and whakapapa to the photos on display, he bought Sister Magda with him, no ceremony for him, just straight to business.
We will be back there when the whanau call, got some unfinished business,
'yes had a little tangi at Mitimiti just like the title says...'
Gavin Reedy

Hinerangi Himiona
9 May 2014 7:30pm

Beautiful report Vicki-Anne for a beautiful place with beautiful people. Nga mihi e hoa.

Ria Waikerepuru
9 May 2014 3:34pm

This looks amazing. I went to one at Hineotu, December 2013 with Manu Kawana, Rangi Te Kawana and Gavin Reedy. Awesome mahi very valuable. Mouri Ora! Great to see this kaupapa going around the country.

9 April 2014 5:27pm

I recall the impact your workshop had at Ngāti Manu so its wonderful to see the great connections still happening for Māori on their own marae and with such tohunga kaitaiki o te ngākau nui ki ngā taonga Māori. Nā te titiro ki ngā whakaahua, kua pā te aroha me te mokemoke ki te hoki tonu atu ki te kāinga. Ngā mihi me ngā manaakitanga e Vicki-Anne

Reremoana Waiariki
8 April 2014 4:11pm

That is so awesome, what a great way to help the community perserve their precious collection :-)

7 April 2014 10:08am

He pai rawa atu tō kōrero me ngā whakaahua. Ka rawe tō mahi e hoa!

Ema Jacob
3 April 2014 11:09pm

Ataahua rawa enei mahi whakaako i a tatou kia ahei ana tatou ki te tiaki a tatou ake taonga. He mahi whakamana i te tangata. Tena koe Vicki, koutou hoki tou ropu awhina mai i te A.T. Library.

Kahu Hotere
3 April 2014 2:53pm

He tino rawe a koutou nei mahi e te whānau. Kia ora Vicki Anne. What a great kaupapa. I remember you telling me about this event. Perhaps I should attend a workshop. So many valuable photos. He mihi aroha ki a koe, koutou hoki ko te whānau o Matihetihe, Mitimiti.

Jackie-lee Natana
3 April 2014 2:25pm

Mean to see korero on our hometown

3 April 2014 11:54am

You are so fortunate to see beautiful Aotearoa Vicki-Anne, share some of that information with the ahi kaa and be on the marae with them too. Awesome kaupapa! Awesome views! Awesome people!

Julie Black
3 April 2014 9:28am

Awesome mahi as ever. This is a great idea and look forward to hearing more.

Anahera Morehu
3 April 2014 9:17am

E te rangatira, he mihi nunui rawa atu ki a koe i to koutou mahi tika. Ka rawe. Aue, te mahara o wetahi o nga taonga e noho ana i nga peke, i nga pataka kakahu me era atu.

Awesome korero and great to see the whanau interested, especially in the wonderful area of Matihetihe, a wonderful marae and so remote that others totally forget it is there. But of course, those from the North frequent it more often than not. Can't wait to show all those that come to the hui-a-tau the wonderful Mitimiti and Matihetihe marae.