Regaining Authority: Setting the Agenda in Maori Heritage through the Control and Shaping of Data

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Gerard O'Regan


Conflict or a reconciliation of it is a common theme in discussions on indigenous peoples’ heritage. Whereas conflict is often expressed in claims of ownership and control, sometimes legally contested, this article suggests that the pragmatic issue of possessing and shaping the associated data is equally important to indigenous peoples’ attempt to reclaim their treasures. This idea is explored through case studies of the experience of the Ngai Tahu tribe of the South Island of New Zealand regarding the future of ancestral human remains and their rock art heritage.

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Author Biography

Gerard O'Regan

Gerard O’Regan has a twenty year career in New Zealand’s heritage sector including working with the Maori collections at the National Museum of New Zealand, assisting small voluntary museums with the Otago Museum’s regional museum service and working for his own South Island tribe, Ngai Tahu, as their first Heritage Manager. He is currently member of the Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Trust, a ministerial appointee to the Maori Heritage Council of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust and writing a masters thesis in archaeology at the University of Auckland.