Regional | Otago

New Māori name for Otago Museum

A new era of acknowledging the bi-cultural history of Aotearoa will see the 145-year-old Otago Museum change its name to Tūhara, as a result of mana whenua consultation.

Local runaka gifted the name, which means to discover, investigate and explore, to the museum on Monday. More recently the museum went by Te Whare Taoka o Otago but director Dr Ian Griffin says it was important a new name recognised partnership enshrined in te Tiriti.

“We are working really hard to honour te Tiriti and be a truly bicultural organisation. The gift of this name by mana whenua reflects that the museum is progressing on our journey to fully embrace our nation’s rich culture and heritage,” Griffin said.

The museum’s Māori advisory committee, which features representatives from four rūnaka was instrumental in determining the name; it had been held by the museum's interactive science centre in the past.

Rachel Wesley, the chair of Te Rūnanga o Ōtākou, previously the Museum’s Curator Māori, and now the mana whenua representative on the Otago Museum Trust Board, called it "fantastic to see the name Tūhura now extended to encompass the whole museum.

Reinforcing the kaupapa

“Drawing on the work that went into the science centre, the history of the museum, and the advice of our leading te reo Māori experts among mana whenua here in Otago, it helps reinforce our kaupapa and the way we’ll work for the region into the future,” she said.

Dr Griffin praised the late Kāi Tahu leader, Tahu Potiki, who worked closely on the creation of the science centre as well as Ms Wesley's mahi.

“[It] really reflects the wairua of the institution… We are honoured and delighted that the local rūnaka have gifted this beautiful name” He said.

Otago Museum Trust Board chair Professor David Hutchinson said the new name “Tūhura, inspires curiosity – literally."

"Since childhood, this has been what museums have been about for me. Tūhura will lead new children on to exploration for generations to come. It’s the perfect name.” he said.

Tūhara branding will be rolled out across the museum over the next few months.