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Tapunga Nepe

Tairāwhiti Museum


Country: New Zealand

ITP Year: 2017


Tapunga’s admiration and passion for his indigenous heritage drives him to develop and enhance his understanding of all things Maori in particular, Te Reo Maori (the Maori language), Tikanga Maori (Maori traditional customs) and Tonga Maori (Maori treasures). Through his professional involvement with taonga Maori, Tapunga has developed an understanding of a balanced methodology around the caring of taonga Maori.

With a background in education, he firmly believes that education is an essential tool in developing the capacity and capabilities of indigenous people, with the hope that one day, Maori or any other indigenous people can manage and care for their traditional taonga, and truly fulfil the role of kaitiekitanga (guardianship).

Tapunga is Director of the Tairāwhiti Museum.

Previously, when he came on the ITP, Tapunga was responsible for the care and access of the taonga Maori collection held at Tairawhiti Museum. He supported and assisted with the management of the taonga Maori Collection, acted as the Tikanga Maori (indigenous customs) advisor and responded to any inquiries related to the taonga Maori collection. Tapunga also developed, maintained, researched and delivered exhibitions on the collection. He liaised with artists, lenders, other museums and iwi regarding taonga Maori. Tapunga built and maintained relationships with iwi, Maori and Non-Maori organisations and maintained regular contact with local iwi, marae and other communities.

At the British Museum
During his time on the International Training Programme 2017, Tapunga was based in the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas and spent his partner placement at Manchester Museum and Manchester Art Gallery.

In 2017 participants were asked to develop a proposal for an Asahi Shimbun Display – a temporary exhibition in Room 3 at the British Museum – based around a ‘spotlight’ object.  Tapunga worked with fellow Mona Melling (Documentation and Content Development Officer, Sarawak Museum, Malaysia) on his exhibition proposal project, entitled Transporting Identities: Exploring Iban and Māori Carved Vessels.