As Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori came to a close, Tauranga iwi Ngāi Te Rangi have ramped up its efforts to help preserve their taonga (precious items).

Ngāi Te Rangi held Mataraunui, a taonga textile conservation wānanga (workshop) at the weekend, with the focus on how to best preserve taonga for future generations.

"All taonga have history, the patterns tell a story, a deeper meaning," Ngāi Te Rangi reo, culture and heritage lead Aurere Thatcher said.

"They hold an important piece of knowledge that reminds us of who we are and where we come from."


Taonga in today's setting are different from how they were viewed in traditional times, Thatcher said. They can be both tangible and intangible but with modern technology, she feared the tangible items could be lost without the proper care.

"We are seeing heat pumps in our wharenui but taonga that are placed near or underneath these heat devices causes them to fade, to create mould and to deteriorate fast.

"It's about adapting to the new world around us and using it to our advantage, but always maintaining our beliefs, values and traditional knowledge in conserving our taonga."

While taonga conservation workshops were not common in Tauranga Moana, Thatcher hoped the wānanga provided opportunities for uri (descendants) to gain the knowledge, skills and proper tools in caring for their own taonga at home, and taonga at their marae.

The workshop was facilitated by textile taonga Māori conservationist Rangi Te Kanawa, and her team from National Services Te Paerangi (Te Papa Museum).

Coming from a long line of weavers Te Kanawa said the passion of protecting taonga was in her blood.

"If we can preserve the matauranga (information) in which they hold then we can transfer that mātauranga to the people."

Te Kanawa works alongside Te Papa in ensuring artefacts and taonga within communities are preserved safely and with the right materials.


What are taonga?

Aurere Thatcher said today, taonga are considered to be both tangible and intangible:

• Physical artefacts
• Adornments
• Weaponry
• Textiles
• Genealogy
• Language
• Old stories
• Waiata
• Chants
• Rituals
• Protocols