Curator Maori welcomed to museum

Rose Mohi (front right), of Hawkes Bay, leads Migoto Eria, the new curator Maori at the Otago Museum, into the museum's Tangata Whenua gallery for an official welcome yesterday, accompanied by her husband, Tom Rowell, son, Tomoana Rowell (3), and Sarah Snelling, of Dunedin. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Rose Mohi (front right), of Hawkes Bay, leads Migoto Eria, the new curator Maori at the Otago Museum, into the museum's Tangata Whenua gallery for an official welcome yesterday, accompanied by her husband, Tom Rowell, son, Tomoana Rowell (3), and Sarah Snelling, of Dunedin. Photo by Linda Robertson.

Otago Museum's first Maori curator, Migoto Eria, was given a full Maori ceremonial welcome at the museum yesterday as she began her new job.

Miss Eria was previously the inaugural curator Maori at MTG Hawkes Bay, the Napier-based Museum Theatre Gallery, and she has a BA (Hons) in Maori studies and linguistics from Victoria University of Wellington.

Her Maori ancestry was linked to Hawkes Bay and it had been a ''real privilege'' to have been accepted by southern iwi in taking up her job, and in the ''fantastic welcome'', she said.

She had been successful in working with her own and with other iwi in the past.

She was looking forward to the challenges of the new job, including helping with a planned redevelopment of the museum's Tangata Whenua gallery, she said in an interview.

This was a ''big project'' and she had already had experience in helping redevelop the Maori gallery at MTG Hawkes Bay.

Otago Museum director Dr Ian Griffin was ''very excited'' about Miss Eria's appointment, which partly reflected moves by the museum to strengthen its collection-related staffing.

Her appointment was ''a strong signal that we're taking our collection very seriously''.

The museum's Maori treasures were also being taken ''especially seriously'', he said.

Two other museum professionals, Robert Morris, of Adelaide, and Nyssa Mildwaters, of Leeds, will take up other senior posts at the Otago Museum as, respectively, director, collections and research, and conservation manager, in August.

john.gibb@odt.co.nz

Pātaka whakairo

Maybe the beautiful pātaka whakairo will not have to languish in a dark corner now, where it is difficult to admire its exquisitely carved sides. Also, maybe the gallery's taonga will be better dusted. The Otago Museum is excellent and it a place we can be proud of, but allowing dust to collect on treasures, such as the carved panels, does not reflect civic pride or respect for the art and what it represents. 

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