I always wonder why we as indigenous people constantly feel like we are hard done by? It saddens me that most of the time we seem to take the low road instead of the high road. Instead of looking at the issues, create a solution that makes it worth our while to work where we do.
I recently attended an indigenous hui for those working in the information sector. I realised that some indigenous people are not as fortunate as us in that Māori have Te Tiriti o Waitangi (not that it is all “hunky dory”), but we are able to use this as a tool to push our kaupapa through. What does this have to do with indigeneity within libraries you ask? Well, kaitiaki within whare taonga of the world, whether they be indigenous or not, have a lot of work on their plate. I make special note that indigenous people in this sector even more so.
Scenarios to consider amongst indigenous peoples in the information sector:
- Holding an indigenous or non-indigenous role in a region where you are tangata whenua has an impact
- Holding an indigenous or non-indigenous role in a region where you are not tangata whenua has an impact
These impact on all indigenous people. Yet what really made me grimace was the people who are indigenous, but not from the land, are not allowed to liaise in any way with the local tangata whenua! Que? Yep me too, I was stunned to say the least. They are asked to look after the knowledge, yet cannot make contact with the people who are the actual caretakers of that material because the organisation is sitting on their land! Sound familiar? All too familiar to many of us.
Colonial organisations want to be able to look after the indigenous traditional knowledge within their collections, so having the following is a small step:
- Bilingual signage – yet how many people actually know how to pronounce these properly or use them on a regular basis?
- Māori names for teams – yet who in their teams know what their Māori name is?
- Tukutuku panels, whakairo, kowhaiwhai patterns dotted around the place – yet who knows the kōrero behind these?
We know this isn’t an organisation being indigenous. In some respects, it is an acknowledgement that they know we are here, but what do others do around the world? Yep I don’t believe enough. We are forming an Indigenous Matters Section via the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions. Here we are able to provide guidelines, implementation plans to support organisations who have indigenous traditional knowledge housed within their whare. It is here that we could make an impact. The International Indigenous Librarians’ Forum which will be held in Aotearoa 2019, is a forum where we can make recommendations to this standing committee to action. A way forward for us all perhaps. What are your thoughts on indigeneity within whare taonga?
by Anahera Morehu
Whare taonga – Institutions that house and care for treasured objects. Treasures can be interpreted widely to include both tangible artifacts, like rare books, and intangible objects like knowledge.
Hui – meeting or gathering
Te Tiriti o Waitangi – An agreement between the British and Māori
Kaupapa – purpose, topic or subject, matter for discussion, policy, agenda, programme.
Kaitiaki – guardian, caretaker
Tangata whenua – people of the land, local tribe
Tukutuku – decorative lattice-work panels
Whakairo – carvings
Kowhaiwhai – decorative painted panels
Kōrero – stories
Aotearoa – New Zealand – “ Land of the long white cloud”