Researching our stories
Written by: Hirini Kaa
17 Nov 2014

The whanau and hapū of Ngāti Porou have many stories from our past. Our challenge is how we share them while upholding their mana and protecting them from exploitation.

Your stories are your intellectual property. There has been a long history in this country of others coming and taking our creative works for their own gain, whether it was stories, waiata or art. And worst of all this property can be misunderstood or even deliberately misused.

Our stories are taonga, which the Waitangi Tribunal in Wai 262 ruled are the intellectual creations of Maori coming from our matauranga – our unique body of knowledge. These taonga have kaitiaki, ‘individuals or communities who must care for these works in accordance with the directives of tikanga Maori.’ We are the kaitiaki of our stories, and part of our role is to protect them from exploitation. Our stories are particularly precious taonga because they relate to out tipuna (ancestors) and hold great mana.

This role as kaitaki  is particularly challenging in the age of information technology. The benefit of this technology is that we are interconnected, and so telling our stories is easier than ever before. But the downside is that it can be taken and spread instantly.

Social media such as Facebook is a good example. Facebook itself claims the rights to freely use any material you post on their site, and by using their site you have agreed to this. So if you post a photo they could use it in any way they want. For free.

So it is important that we keep our stories safe online. As a basic rule, don’t post up anything you don’t want to be available to everyone. Remember our role as kaitiaki, but also be willing to share appropriately before this precious knowledge becomes lost.

Tukuna mai o whakaaro