Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Conservation of the Cook Islands Proclamation (E Tuatua Akakite) of 1891

To mark Te Epetoma o te Reo Māori Kūki ‘Airani, Cook Islands Language Week, we have a special behind the scenes post today. This year is also particularly significant as today, 4 August, marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Cook Islands achieving self-government.

Last year David Ashman, the Preservation Manager at Auckland Libraries, performed conservation treatment work on The Cook Islands Proclamation (E Tuatua Akakite) of 1891. This was reported on earlier this year in both the Cook Islands News and the Cook Islands Herald as well as on the website of the Cook Islands Museum and Library Society.

The proclamation is described on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register for Asia/Pacific:

A fragile and rare, one-paged document written in Maori, the language spoken by most of the population of the Cook Islands at that time, called the Proclamation (E Tutatua Akakite), signed by the Earl of Onslow, on 4th April, 1891, on behalf of the Queen of Great Britain & Ireland, placing a protectorate over the Cook Islands. This document marks the beginning of a relationship, which continues today with the Queen as the Head of State of the Cook Islands through the Governor General of New Zealand and the Cook Islands inheriting a Westminster parliamentary system.  

The conservation process that David followed is illustrated by the subsequent photographs:

The process began by first removing the document from its highly acidic backing board, to which it had been attached over 60 years ago. 

Ref: Backing removal of E Tuatua Akakite, 2014.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori: Pūtahitanga exhibition

To mark Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, Māori Language Week, for 2015 here at Heritage et AL we are featuring some of the oldest items in our collections relating to te reo Māori.

These taonga are all held in Sir George Grey Special Collections and currently on show in our exhibition space on the second floor of the Central Library as part of our exhibition Pūtahitanga: a meeting of two worlds in the North, 1769-1842.

The arrival of Captain James Cook in New Zealand in 1769 is usually seen as the beginning of the meeting of two worlds – the Māori and the European – leading to increasing interaction, misunderstanding and understanding, cross-cultural movement and exchange.
This exhibition reveals some of those interactions with explorers, sealers and whalers, missionaries, traders and settlers in the documents and books produced at the time and held in Sir George Grey Special Collections. The word Pūtahitanga means a confluence of streams and expresses the fluidity of this period.
We end the exhibition in 1842, two years after the Treaty of Waitangi and the move of the capital to the new settlement of Auckland, and three years before the first major conflict erupted in 1845.  

The first item ever printed in New Zealand is this very modest production by the missionary William Yate, printed in Kerikeri in 1830. Only two known copies survive now.
The text is a Māori translation of the catechism, a summary of the Christian doctrine.