Victoria PhD student appointed as Te Papa's Kaihautū

Arapata Hakiwai, a PhD student in Museum and Heritage Studies at Victoria University, has been welcomed into his position as Kaihautū at Te Papa, a role that shares strategic leadership with the chief executive.


Mr Hakiwai, of Ngāti Kahungunu, Rongowhakaata, Ngāti Porou, and Ngāi Tahu, will provide bicultural leadership across the museum, support the philosophy of Mana Taonga, and further develop the strong networks and relationships he has with iwi throughout New Zealand.   

“Te Papa plays an important role in developing and strengthening relationships between iwi, hapū, whānau, communities and their taonga. I am looking forward to continuing this work, and building on these significant relationships,” says Mr Hakiwai, who submitted his thesis just two days before the powhiri held to welcome him at Te Papa’s marae. 
Mr Hakiwai’s PhD research examines the relationship between museums, taonga, identity and contemporary tribal social development. 
In addition, he is currently leading a world-wide research project funded by Nga Pae o Te Maramatanga to identify and create a digital database of Māori and Moriori taonga in museums and galleries both nationally and internationally, which aims to facilitate their digital repatriation to reconnect them with their people.
In his current role as Head of Mātauranga Māori, and recently as the Scholar, Mātauranga Māori, Mr Hakiwai has been leading the intellectual direction for Māori research and scholarship at Te Papa. He is an experienced professional, having worked at the museum in a number of roles for many years, including collection management, exhibition development, repatriation and professional development.
He has established relationships with iwi, communities and institutions in the museum sector across New Zealand and internationally. The standing in which he is held was reflected in the huge turnout to his powhiri, and the media interest in his appointment.
Te Papa's Chief Executive, Michael Houlihan, says he is looking forward to working alongside Mr Hakiwai as he leads the development of Te Papa’s Mana Taonga capability; provides oversight of the iwi relationship programme, the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme, iwi in residence and the marae; and ensures the ethnic and cultural diversity of the people of New Zealand is represented.
“It’s an exciting time at Te Papa with our new vision to change hearts, minds and lives. Arapata will make a significant contribution to embedding the recent changes that will ensure Te Papa’s future position as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions."