Sunday, June 3, 2012

Protecting our national treasures

Interesting article pointed out to me by Jayne at Our Great Southern Land (thanks, Jayne!)

"In a room full of treasures out the back of Te Papa, Shane James holds up one that almost got away.
It's a curious-looking but strangely beautiful wooden funnel,intricately carved with Maori-looking patterns, that was on the brink of being auctioned in Melbourne in 2009, when it was seized by Australian authorities and returned to New Zealand because it is "taonga" – a treasure. 

"James is kaitiaki (guardian) of the Maori collection at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and the object he's holding reverently, white gloves and all, looks just like a korere, the traditional Maori feeding funnel used so tohunga and other high-ranked men could be fed without touching their food.

"Except it's not a korere. It wasn't even made in New Zealand. It's a brilliant fake, made in the 1920s by a notorious English furniture maker, fraudster and occasional thief called James Little. 

"Yet when the Ministry of Culture and Heritage learnt of the Melbourne auction, they swooped just the same. Even as a fake, the funnel comes under schedule 4, category 9 of the Protected Objects Act (1975). It tells "important stories about the international market in fake Maori objects" and so on. It's our fake and we're holding on to it, thank you very much."

Much more at the link.

1 comment:

  1. I must say that I admire the strength in the laws protecting these items; rather than being toothless tigers these laws protect & promote the pride in cultural items for future generations.