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UNESCO Honours Four NZ Cultural Heritage Projects

5 September 2002

UNESCO Honours Four New Zealand Cultural Heritage Projects

Four projects organised by some of New Zealand’s leading cultural institutions - including the National Library, NZ Historic Places Trust, Archives New Zealand and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, among others - have been honoured by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO as part of the United Nations Year of Cultural Heritage Year 2002.

“The awards are designed to recognise and draw attention to the great range of cultural heritage activities taking place around New Zealand in this the United Nations Year of Cultural Heritage,” says John Mohi, Chair of the UNESCO NZ Culture Sub Commission.

Mr Mohi says the Year for Cultural Heritage, for which UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) has responsibility, aims to raise awareness of the importance of cultural heritage and to stimulate countries to undertake significant activities and measures to safeguard their heritage.

“Each of the projects that we have endorsed targets a fundamental aspect of our cultural heritage,” Mr Mohi says.

“It is easy for these things, especially one-off events like conferences and exhibitions, to slip by. But they are important milestones in the development of New Zealand’s national identity, and they help us learn about and celebrate unique strands of our culture and history.”

UNESCO has awarded Certificates of Endorsement to:

- National Library Exhibition of Ngati Kahungunu, March - June, 2002

This exhibition, which opened during the 2002 International Festival of the Arts, presented New Zealand’s most significant collection of historic photographic portraits of Maori. It featured portraits and histories of Kahungunu tipuna from 275 photographs taken by Napier-based photographer Samuel Carnell, and gifted to the Alexander Turnbull Library in 1963. The images of tipuna were placed within the context of Kahungunu genealogy by the exhibition’s curators, who wove family linkages from their 19th-century ancestors to the present day.

- NZ Historic Places Trust, Toitu te Marae Project

This project, led by members of the Trust’s regionally based National Maori Heritage Team, Tira Pouhere Taonga, aims to build the capacity of whanau, hapu and iwi to manage their heritage and to conserve New Zealand’s increasingly valuable heritage of marae buildings. The Historic Places Trust is working on this project in concert with Te Puni Kokiri, Te Papa, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, National Library, CRS Education and others. Resources that are being developed include a handbook that lists services and information of interest to marae, and an electronic information package, giving visiting parties, tourists, schools etc up-to-date information about marae and their communities. A website for networking and information about the handbook and marae profile project is also being developed.

- Archives New Zealand exhibition “Reclaiming our natural heritage’, April to September, 2002

This exhibition of notable public records from Archive holdings focuses on the early development of the conservation estate from the 1870s to the 1930s. It shows how the original settlers from Europe moved from viewing New Zealand as an untamed wilderness consisting of “gloomy forest and repulsive and rugged waste”, to valuing its natural beauty. Taking pride of place is the original deed of gift for Tongariro National Park given by Chief Te Heuheu Tukino of Ngati Tuwharetoa.

- Massey University/ Te Manawa/ Te Papa, Indigenous Art and Heritage, & the Politics of Identity Conference and Exhibition, 6-9 July, 2002

This international conference was held to examine the current state of indigenous interventionist policies relating to the practice, dissemination, discourse and promotion of the visual arts in the Pacific Rim. It was conceived as an opportunity to strengthen links between tangata whenua artists, curators, art commentators and writers with the indigenous peoples of the Pacific and other nations. It was organised by Te Putahi-a-Toi, the School of Maori Studies, Massey University in Palmerston North, in partnership with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and Te Manawa (formerly the Manawatu Art Gallery).

UNESCO has been involved in safeguarding and preserving cultural heritage for more than 50 years. More recently, it has focused attention on the importance of local and indigenous knowledge as a resource for promoting cultural diversity and social and economic development.

The New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO has produced an information kit for media on Cultural Heritage, which provides background information on cultural heritage and United Nations efforts in this regard, such as the World Heritage Lists. It also provides information about some of the cultural heritage activities taking place in New Zealand which could provide angles for stories about the Year and the concept of cultural heritage preservation. This Kit is available by email or post from: or UNESCO NZ, PO Box 1666, Wellington

Tel: (04) 4735-536.


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