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The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture opened the “Pacific Voices” exhibition in 1997, a community-led exhibition of Indigenous cultures throughout the Pacific Rim, including Māori. Twenty years later, Nicola Andrews, a Ngāti Pāoa Māori student at the University of Washington, serendipitously visited the Burke and began collaborating with the museum to reframe taonga (treasure, anything prized) descriptions in its catalogue and physical spaces. The Burke collection also includes 962 Māori photographs spanning the 19th century, which were removed from Aotearoa New Zealand and donated to the museum in 1953. These

photographs had been digitized but not published, and the museum had almost no identifying information about their subjects. This article describes what is perhaps the first attempt in over six decades to identify the rangatira (chief, person of high rank) depicted in these images, and ways for the Burke to honor the tupunā (ancestors) and taonga in its care as it prepared to open a new location in late 2019.


Originally published in the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions 2021, Vol. 47(3) 392-397