Ngā Raranga I Makere / Stitches Dropped In Time: An Oral History Study of Māori Community Archiving in Taranaki, 2014-2017.
Community archiving is a movement with its origins in the grass-roots activities of documenting, recording and exploring community heritage in a way that focuses on community participation and ownership of records. This research was about a Māori archiving community of practice from Taranaki and investigated how the training they received created outcomes for their taonga archives and families. It did this by answering three research questions designed to identify how post-custodial trends in community archiving resonated with, or differed from, the methods employed by 11 former students of Te Pūtē Routiriata o Taranaki community archive in New Plymouth. This research took a qualitative oral history approach to data gathering and used thematic analysis to examine evidence gathered from three generations of whānau archivists. It investigated whether community archiving had enhanced their collections of whānau history passed down from generation to generation and connected the close family groups that were looking after them. This study proposes a concept of whānau-led collection management as a model of practice for flax-roots communities and public heritage institutions that work with taonga Māori. It explains the link between collectively caring for archival collections and positive outcomes for whānau engagement with te reo Māori and other forms of cultural identity building. It draws on international examples to suggest ways that practices of community archiving, such as digitisation and digital archiving, can bridge the gap between community-led and institutional methods of caring for tangible and intangible cultural heritage.