Professor Paul Tapsell (Te Arawa/Ngati Raukawa)

Paora was the Ko Tawa Project’s curator, writer & co-designer while Tumuaki/Director Maori of Tamaki Paenga Hira/Auckland Museum from 2000-2008. He is now a Professor at Te Tumu: School of Maori, Pacific and Indigenous Studies, University of Otago. With the assistance of a Marsden Fund, Paora spent many years researching, writing, developing and publishing on or about the Ko Tawa Project. Since 2008 he has written academic papers, bringing international recognition to the Ko Tawa Project as the first post-museum exhibition to emerge from Aotearoa New Zealand. He comes from a curatorial background (Rotorua Museum 1990-1994) and completed his doctoral studies at Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford (1995-1998). Paora’s goal is to continually challenge conventional ways of retelling history in nation spaces so they reach today’s generation of marae descendants, not least by activating taonga-related narratives as remembered by source community elders themselves.
Krzysztof Pfeiffer

- Photographer: Tamaki Paenga Hira/Auckland Museum

Award winning photographer Krzysztof Pfeiffer has published many photography books around the world. As Auckland Museum’s resident photographer he was a key team member, photographing all of the images that have subsequently been used within the exhibition, its multimedia, the book, catalogue, calendar, the film, TV documentary series and as the artwork for the CD - Te Whiri. Krzysztof is now a key member of a new off-spin project named Maori Maps, which is run by the charitable organisation, Te Potiki National Trust:

Michael Hennessy

– Oral Historian / Producer / Director

Mike Hennessy (BSc / MCPA) produced and directed all of the multimedia and video elements for the exhibition as well as the 6-part Qantas Media Award finalist TV documentary for 2009: Ko Tawa. He filmed and recorded the interviews on all four of the key hikoi, as well as subsequent separate interviews. Mike also produced and directed the exhibition film, Echoes from Our Ancestral Landscapes, and executive produced the music album Te Whiri.

Kataraina Jehly (Te Arawa/Ngati Raukawa)

- Assistant Curator and Ko Tawa Database developer, 2004-2008

Kataraina began her museum career in her early teens as an assistant at the Rotorua Museum before attending Waikato and Auckland universities as well as working at Waikato Museum. In 2004 she was appointed curatorial assistant on the Ethnology Team and became the driver behind today’s very successful Auckland Museum Taonga Database, inside which exists the Ko Tawa Database. Today Kataraina is the Archivist/curator at Te Awamutu Museum.

Nicola Railton (Ngapuhi)


Nicola was the key coordinator of the Ko Tawa team, having assisted Paora from the very beginning in the development of the project. She previously worked as a researcher at the James Henare Maori Research Centre at the University of Auckland after attaining a degree in Maori Studies and English. Nicola became the expert administrator who tied together the team, research outputs and a multitude of new and existing relationships, eventually culminating in Ko Tawa.

Rewi Thompson (Ngai te Rangi)

– Architect

One of Aotearoa New Zealand’s most famous Maori architects, Rewi provided important guidance within the team at the design stages of the exhibition.

Jade Baker (Ngati Awa)

– Ko Tawa Researcher & Guide (2004-2008)

Jade is a scholarship recipient of the Marsden research team and has assisted the project both as a writer and an exhibition guide and trainer. She is currently completing her doctoral studies at University of Canterbury after receiving her Masters at Te Wananga o Awanuiarangi.

Rangiiria Hedley (Ngati Tuwharetoa) (d. June 28, 2011)

- former Maori Values Team member of Tamaki Paenga Hira/Auckland Museum (Hikoi facilitator and musician 2004-2006)

Rangiiria joined the Museum in 2004, responsible for facilitating the return of over 1000 Ancestral Human Remains to source marae communities. Her on-the-ground liaison skills assisted the team’s successful engagement on hikoi in the Central North Island, in particular acting as our guide when we visited her Tuwharetoa people. She was also our key taonga puoro (traditional musical instruments) musician and co-producer of the album Te Whiri.

Dr Don Stafford

- Hikoi Guide: Te Arawa Historian former respected pakeke of Ngati Whakaue/Te Arawa 2003-2006 (d. 2009)

Don was one of our very special elders who guided us to little known sites of major significance to Te Arawa and their interaction with Gilbert Mair. Although he was then in his 80s the younger members of the team struggled to keep pace both physically and intellectually as he walked and talked (often in Maori) the landscapes of Rotorua and beyond as once retold to him by Te Arawa’s elders when he was a young man. The Ko Tawa documentary film – Ko Tawa: Echoes from our Landscapes – is the team’s tribute to this past wonderful elder and regionally renowned statesman of the Bay of Plenty.

Sean Winterbottom

– Creative Producer 2003-2005

Sean (BSc) worked as exhibition media creative producer throughout the Ko Tawa project and travelled on three of the four hikoi, providing camera and sound assistance. He was part of the key creative team that refined the exhibition design, and guided the development of all the multimedia and technology elements of the exhibition.

Dr Rapata Wiri (Tuhoe/Te Arawa)

Dr Wiri completed his research at University of Auckland and has since taught at University of Hawai’i, Waiariki Polytech, Wananga o Awanuiarangi and University of Waikato. He guided the team during the journey through marae communities in the Urewera Forest and his wider whanau ensured we were all well fed.

Amanda Stanes 2005-2008

A key to the exhibition getting off the ground was sponsorship. The team was greatly assisted by Amanda who remained back in the museum setting up key relationship meetings, which precipitated incredible acts of generosity from key sponsors. These sponsors – Don Braid at Mainfreight, Martin McManus at Sony and Mike of Iomedia stuck by Ko Tawa from early development and from museum to museum, marae to marae, across the Tasman Sea, beginning to end. To these three wonderful leaders of New Zealand, a deeply heart-felt thanks for sharing in the team’s vision and supporting Ko Tawa so it could reach out to the new generation of New Zealanders growing up in the hood: Ko Tawa continues to live on, showing many of them there is a choice.

Wider team members 2003-2008

Special mention to Merata Kawharu (Ngati Whatua) and Ron Crosby for research assistance (see his 2004 book Gilbert Mair: Te Kooti’s Nemesis by Reed); Max Riksen and exhibition team of Kelly Bewley (Te Ati Awa), Stephen Brookbanks and Heath King; Design team of Nick Eagles & Hannah Kerr who are now independently known as The Letter Q; and not least the former Maori Values Team (2001-2008), including Chanel Clarke (Ngapuhi), Awhina Rawiri (Ngati Whatua), Kipa Rangiheuea (Te Arawa/Ngati Awa), that acted as the Ko Tawa Team’s home base of reason.

The Team was indebted to the mana whenua leadership of Ngati Whatua o Orakei, namely late Sir Hugh, Uncle Doc and Uncle Danny who provided the protective mantle under which Ko Tawa was able to flourish within a museum environment, giving real action to the Taumata-a-Iwi/Maori Advisory Committee’s previous ten years of advice. The Directors and staff of the nine Ko Tawa venues a special thank you for believing in the Ko Tawa Project. And a final very thanks – nga mihi nui ki a koutou goes to all the marae communities and descendants who gave up their valuable time to be kaiarahi (guides) to the many thousands of visitors, young and old on both sides of the Tasman. You were the special magic that made Ko Tawa real.