On October 6, the Pacific Anthropology team welcomed new President and CEO, Julian Siggers, and his wife, Marianne Lovink, to the Museum by introducing them to the wharenui, or meeting house, Ruatepupuke II.
Maori protocol dictates that newcomers and visitors to a community be welcomed on that community’s marae and introduced to their wharenui (see Keeping the marae warm). With the support of the descendants of those who carved this remarkable building in the nineteenth century at Tokomaru Bay in Aotearoa (New Zealand), FM staff follow this tradition. We at the museum have welcomed many visitors and staff over the years. Julian and Marianne were provided this informal welcome, rather than the traditional powhiri, in deference to social distancing guidelines.
Julian and Marianne learned about the history of this 140 year old wharenui, including the story of the relationship between Tokomaru Bay and the Museum, from Regenstein Collections Manager Chris Philipp and Regenstein Conservator JP Brown. In recent years, both Philipp and Brown have visited Ruatepupuke’s whanau in Aotearoa. Head of Anthropological Collections Jamie Kelly and exhibitions developer Ryan Schuessler also related their experiences in using the marae as part of the Museum's co-curation efforts with Chicago’s Philippines community and the Marshallese of Enid, Oklahoma. Chicago’s Aloha Center, American Indian Center, and others have also made use of the marae.
The team looks forward to further discussion with Julian, and working together towards our goal of forming lasting partnerships for shared governance with the descendant communities whom we serve.
Photos: (L-R) JP Brown, Julian Siggers, Chris Philipp, and Marianne Lovink meet in the wharenui. Photos by Jamie Kelly.