Association of Hawaii Archivists

Kia Ora from Aotearoa!  Presenting at the 7th World Indigenous Peoples Conference on Education held at the University of Waikato provided me an opportunity to interact with over 3,000 participants from 50 nations over the five days in Hamilton New Zealand.   Hosted by Te Wananga o Aotearoa the triennial conference attracted eminent educations, researchers, students and observers including a team representing the United Nations from the Pacific Islands, Taiwan and Australia.  HawaiØi was the largest delegation with some 700 members.

Keynote speakers included Cuban Minister of Education Luis I. Gomez Gutierrex, Maori historian and philosopher Moana Jackson, Comanche leader and former U.S. vice-president candidate LaDonna Harris, and HawaiØiÕs own Dr. Manu Meyer of Hilo in the middle of her sabbatical in Aotearoa.

The conference theme was Te Toi Road – Indigenous Excellence with sub themes of leadership, research and development and new horizons of knowledge. There was also a Language Symposium, an Elders Symposium and a Leadership Panel. 

So what was my exposure to archives while here!  One had to go slightly out of your way to find them but with the connections made through Kamehameha SchoolsÕ Hawaiian Collection Kawika Makanani, I was successful if learning more about Maori and Hamilton archives. 

Walking around downtown Hamilton in the Waikato region of the North Island, a hidden force drew me to the Central Library (doesnÕt that happen to us all?) where I was surprised to discover the Hamilton Community Archives located on the 3rd floor. You gotta love their description on their handout:

We preserve and promote the papers and photographs which represent HamiltonÕs history and the memories of its people. If you have records from your family, club, society, business or school that you would like to see cared for and preserved for future generations, then we would like to help. We are establishing a place for a community archive in the Hamilton City Libraries, to care for those papers now hiding under spare beds, in garages and sheds, and possibly being chewed by mice and silverfish. 

I was kindly given a tour by solo archivist Darryl Pike whose BA is in Museum Studies.  A handy Notes for Users for the Manuscript archives and Oral history collection is provided.  Their website provides even more information.  We recognized a common battle with humidity as Hamilton the most interior city sits along the Waikato River, the largest river in New Zealand, various deltas and lakes all surrounded by mountains.  He acknowledged that this was a unique situation to have the archives as part of the public library system but the Hamilton City Council recognized the need to preserve their own history. 

While eating too well and trying to maintain my manners at the parental home of David Jones, Maori Collections Librarian at the Alexander Turnbull Library in the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington, I met Sandra Falconer of the National Archives, also in Wellington and re-connected with Hinerangi Kara who visited HawaiØi several years ago and gave a presentation on Maori instruments at the Hawaiian Studies Center at UH-Manoa.  Sandra informed me there are five archivists at the National Archives of Maori blood.  Also attending this pŠina was ALA presidential candidate Loriene Roy of the University of Texas at Austin whom was a guest speaker at the recent HLA conference on the Kohala Coast.  When informed of the Roundtable regarding native collections is entitled Archivists and Archives of Color they were appalled.

It was an excellent opportunity to network with archivists working with indigenous collections and I hope AHA develops closer professional relationships with them.  Who knows, we may have one of our annual conferences in Aotearoa! No reasons we canÕt include the entire Polynesian triangle into AHA!

Helen Wong Smith, MLIS, CA
Historical/Cultural Specialist
Land Assets Division - Kamehameha Schools