Building a hapū digital archive: the Ngāti Tiipa whakapapa and whenua project


For most Indigenous peoples, genealogy entails complex layers of dynamic relationships between humans, the environment and the spirit realms. These relationships often lie at the heart of traditional knowledge systems and the intergenerational transmission of mythology, legend, history, esoteric knowledge, customs and protocols for ethical behaviour. This workshop describes an initiative undertaken by researchers and whānau of Ngāti Tiipa, from the Waikato region of Aotearoa, to develop from scratch their own cloud-based digital archive centred around the establishment of historical whakapapa (genealogical) and whenua (land) databases. There are three key parts. The first focuses on the development of a whakapapa database focused on the identification of 19th century Ngāti Tiipa tūpuna (ancestors). We describe the process of data repatriation and triangulation used to collect information from state and church archives, land courts, vital data sets (e.g, births, deaths) and historical newspapers, and how these data have been repurposed by Ngāti Tiipa, drawing on our own mātauranga (customary knowledge), whānau whakapapa collections and kōrero shared in marae-based gatherings. The second part describes the ‘by whānau, for whānau’ approach taken to recording the oral histories of Ngāti Tiipa kaumātua (elders) to bring to life our ancestral stories and connections. We discuss the way Ngāti Tipa are developing our own oral history research practice and how we see its long term value to our people in the future. The third part describes the development of tikanga and kawa (ethics, processes, principles) that will be used to guide access and use of information in the digital Ngāti Tiipa archive, drawing on emergent principles of Māori and Indigenous data sovereignty.