Te Pataka Taoka: New name for museum storage facility

Work on the facility was completed earlier this month as the first stage of Invercargill City Council’s Project 1225, to build a new museum and a specialist tuatara enclosure. Historic artefacts and artwork are currently being relocated in the new facility.

The council’s mana whenua representative for Waihōpai Rūnaka, Reverend Evelyn Cook, said much deliberation had gone into the new name.

“The word ‘pataka’ refers to the raised-platform storehouse, where food was once kept. That image or narrative may be familiar to people of my generation who remember the image of a pataka adorning the envelope of the Post Office’s savings book back in the 1950s.”

The phrase ‘taoka’ reflected the southern dialect of te reo, she said. Those with whakapapa links to the Waihōpai area often replaced the ‘ng’ digraph with a ‘k’. Aorangi was more commonly known as Aoraki; rūnanga was replaced with rūnaka; in this case taonga, or treasure, was replaced with taoka.

“Using the dialect of our takiwā further enhances this facility’s connection to the wider community,” Cook said.

The former Southland Museum and Art Gallery Board has also adopted a new name, the Te Kupeka Tiaki Taoka Trust. The trust oversees the management of museum collection items, with financial support from the Southland Regional Heritage Committee and the Invercargill City Council.

“The facility was built with a purpose, and it is equally important that the kaitiaki charged with overseeing the taoka within it are known by a name befitting of their role,” Cook said.

A ‘kupeka’ was a net, often used at sea, to collect and gather items. Because the facility would house items not just from within Southland, but from throughout the southern region – such as the Subantarctic Islands – this phrase was appropriate, she said.

The 1650m2 facility included state-of-the-art shelving for collection items, office space and workrooms, and Southland’s first-ever regional conservation lab.

The council’s group manager for community spaces and places, Rex Capil, said he was delighted the transfer of collection items from the Southland Museum and Art Gallery to the new facility had begun.

“Southland has never had a purpose-built storage facility for museum collection items prior to the development of Te Pataka Taoka,” he said.

“We are pleased to have been able to undertake a once-in-a-generation opportunity to ensure our region’s heritage is stored, protected, and cared for appropriately – today and into the future.”

This rehousing of collection items is expected to take until March 2024.