New community-led gallery now open at Auckland Museum

Source: Auckland Council

As the renewal of its public spaces nears completion, Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum has opened a new gallery designed to help Auckland communities share their stories.

Located in the space formerly occupied by the Museum Store in the Grand Foyer, Te Taunga Community Hub provides a space for long-term engagement with the diverse communities of Tāmaki Makaurau.

The first exhibition in Te Taunga Community Hub gallery is Te Mekameka O Toku Ipukarea: The Treasures of my Homeland, presented by Akatokamanava Enua Community of Tāmaki Makaurau, Auckland’s Cook Islands Mauke community. Akatokamanava Enua Community also gifted the name of the exhibition to the museum.

Visitors are able to experience the story of the Mauke people through the eyes of the community itself, rather than through the museum’s interpretation.

By sharing their personal stories, members of the community describe how their taonga reflects their heritage and culture, past and present.

The Akatokamanava Enua Community is the first of a series of communities that Te Taunga Community Hub will host over the next two years.

The Sudanese community of New Zealand will follow the Mauke group as the next programmers of the community hub space.

Head of Learning and Public Programmes Kath McGhie says the concept for the new gallery reflects the museum’s aspiration to be a place of belonging, welcome and celebration for all Aucklanders.

“We have created a space where the welcome of a particular community is vital in authentic storytelling about their culture and identity,” she says.

“It places the community first. Leading the stories of their history in their own voice is crucial to indigenisation; connecting communities with their taonga that is the larger story we’re telling at the museum,” says McGhie.

Every item on display in Te Mekameka O Toku Ipukarea: The Treasures of my Homeland has been chosen by the community to tell their story, from the treasures themselves, to the labels, the signage, the music and the lighting.

“It’s emotional for me watching the Mauke community make these interpretive choices and supporting them to ensure we tell their story how they want their story told,” says McGhie.

“They’ve moved beyond programming activations and thinking about display angles of taonga to adding photographs of their knowledge holders on the labels, which makes the whole experience even more personal to the community.”

On Saturday 7 August, the Akatokamanava Enua community will be leading their own craft and music activations under the Tanoa in Te Ao Mārama from 10.30am to 2.15pm.

Visitors will experience live performance-based demonstrations of dance, vivo (nose flute) and To’i Rakau (wood carving) against a musical backdrop in a space that is dedicated to cultural welcome.

Entry to the exhibition is free for Aucklanders. Non-residents pay the museum’s admission fee.