150 Celebrating Christchurch City Libraries 1859-2009 RSS feed

Haneta Pierce (Ngāti Mutunga) and the development of a bi-cultural presence at Christchurch City Libraries

“It’s fantastic to work in a place that embraces our bi-cultural identity and nurtures it”. There’s no doubt Haneta Pierce loves her job at Christchurch City Libraries.

Haneta PierceThe dedicated Māori Services Coordinator has worked here for 13 years and has made an enormous mark on the place, developing and nurturing the South Island’s first and largest Māori library collection.

A Pioneering Maori Librarian

Given this, it comes as a surprise to hear her use the word “scary” to describe her first impression of the place back in 1995. However, she is quick to put those feelings into context. As the first appointed Māori Librarian in the South Island, she faced the daunting task of pioneering a vibrant Māori Resource Centre. The warm welcome and enthusiastic support she received from her fellow librarians gave her the confidence she needed to succeed.

The creation of the Māori Resources Librarian position was to mark the first of many milestones for Christchurch City Libraries’ bi-cultural activities. The position was approved by Christchurch City Council in 1995 - declared the “Year of Maori Language” by the government in an effort to increase its own bicultural commitment. Encouraged by her peers at the Christchurch Polytechnic Library and with the push of the esteemed Polytechnic Kaumatua, Hohua Tutengaehe, Haneta applied for the position and was asked to come to an interview.

Haneta remembers the interview fondly, recalling the gentle cultural collision of The Library’s first ever whanau interview.

Starting in February 1996, Haneta became the first Māori Resources Librarian in the South Island. The Polytechnic Library staff formally handed Haneta over to the Library in a powhiri, that was attended by Library colleagues, Ngāi Tahu representatives, kaumatua, the president of Te Ropu Whakahau & whanau. Haneta said “the powhiri was an important milestone for the library & set the scene for many more cultural activities to come over the next 13 years”

While the library had identified a need for a librarian with specialist Māori knowledge, the specific nature of the role and it’s responsibilities was to be worked out over time. Haneta began with a rickety old wooden trolley, searching the collections in Central Library to locate & gather together appropriate resources. After six months she had filled several trolleys of material and this became the starting point for the Māori collection, now called ‘Ngā Pounamu Māori’ (green stone treasures).

Creating Maori Collections in Our Community Libraries

One of her most satisfying achievements is the development of 19 more Māori collections in all community libraries across the city.

Kowhaiwhai Piko o MātaurangaIn 1998 Haneta worked with a local artist Grace Voller to create a unique logo to identify Māori material throughout the network. The green & white logo is called ‘Kowhaiwhai Piko o Mātauranga’ (unity in knowledge). The concept behind the logo reflects our relationship with Tangata Whenua.

In 1999 under the new title of Māori Resources & Services Librarian, Haneta began to develop and expand the collection. She was able to begin purchasing resources and filling the gaps in the collection in areas such as Māori language resources, Māori art and tribal histories. As the collection expanded so did the demand for services and in 2003 Haneta was promoted to the role of Kaiwhakahaere Ratonga Maori, Māori Services Coordinator reporting directly to the Library Manager, Sue Sutherland who Haneta says was an excellent mentor.

The next five years were spent developing the libraries’ bi-cultural presence and commitment. This included Treaty of Waitangi & te reo Māori training for staff, a signage project that resulted in bilingual signs on display in all libraries; Māori names for each library in our network; a whakapapa guide; a set of traditional tukutuku panels for the Ngā Pounamu Māori Centre in Central Library; the development of Ti Kouka Whenua, a website looking at local historical places of importance to Māori including some important community groups & organisations; of special significance for the Library was winning the Local Govt section in the Inaugural National Māori language Week awards in 2004 and being runners up in the Supreme Award section, just coming in behind TVNZ. The Māori Zone on the Libraries’ website is a true testament to the growth & development of Māori information resources & services at Christchurch City Libraries.

Working at National and International Level

Haneta has been instrumental in the Libraries’ reputation as one of the leading libraries in bi-cultural services in New Zealand. She now mentors other Māori librarians throughout New Zealand and was the South Island representative for Te Rōpū Whakahau (Māori in Libraries and Information Management) for several years. She credits this group with the Māori knowledge management skills and extensive networks she now has.

Involvement in the bi-annual International Indigenous Library Forum has given Haneta a global context for her work. In 2002 she attended the first Forum in Auckland and she recently attended the sixth forum at Te Wānanga o Raukawa. “New Zealand is leading the way in the field of indigenous libraries and information management – so it’s good that mentoring can happen at an international level too” she comments.

Christchurch City Libraries’ first Bi-Cultural Plan Ngā Tapuwae Hou (2002-2007) was another huge milestone for the Libraries - and for Haneta. It was the first time the Library had formally recognized and planned for bi-cultural objectives. Implementing the document was to bring about yet more expansion and change over the next five years.


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