LAB 3: Across time, place and people

Whakawhānaungatanga: Connecting taonga Māori

11 December 2022 – 25 June 2023

Since the end of the 19th century, almost 150 taonga Māori (Māori treasures) from Aotearoa New Zealand have entered the collection of the Linden-Museum in Stuttgart. Clothing, jewellery and weapons, tools, carvings and a carved house make up the greater part of this collection. Many of these objects came to Stuttgart by winding paths: they were gifts from European travellers, acquired by patrons for the museum or taken over from other collections through exchange or purchase. Little or nothing is known about their whakapapa (genealogy) – the names of their makers, their former owners and their history in Aotearoa New Zealand. Yet the taonga are important and full of meaning for Māori today. Highlighting this while also creating new relationships is one of the aims of LindenLAB 3.

As part of the LindenLAB 3, we have explored new ways online and on-site of engaging with taonga Māori by tracing their origins and considering how this creates meaning, mana and kōrero between Māori and the Linden-Museum. The project highlights the liveness of the collection and, in collaboration with and guided by Māori researchers and experts, has revealed connections that link the Stuttgart collection to individuals and local communities, as well as to the histories of institutions and nations. We investigate concepts and forms of presentation that can make these relationships visible – without losing sight of the respective cultural meanings, aesthetics and artistic expressiveness of the objects. In LindenLAB 3, the contributors each take their own look at selected assemblages of historical and contemporary taonga Māori, underscoring the dynamics of a living collection.

LAB partners

Ngarino Ellis (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Porou) is an Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Auckland and author of A Whakapapa of Tradition: 100 years of Ngāti Porou carving, 1830-1930 (2016). She has led and coordinated the LindenLAB 3 partners since the project’s start.

Dougal Austin (Kāti Māmoe, Kāi Tahu, Waitaha) is curator of the Māori collections at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum in Wellington and author of Te Hei Tiki: an enduring treasure in a cultural continuum (2019).

Awhina Tamarapa (Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Ruanui) worked as a curator at Te Papa Museum and is a Teaching Fellow for the Museum and Heritage Studies program at Victoria University Wellington where she is also completing her PhD. She is the editor and author of Whatu Kākahu / Māori Cloaks (2011).

Justine Treadwell is a PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Auckland. Her research focuses on 18th century Māori cloaks held in European collections. Previously she has worked at Auckland Museum on the storage of the Māori textile collection.