#NZCCM2020 Abstract: Anastazja Harding

‘INTERNMOIL’; A personal reflection on the rationale for Kawerau’s first museum internship

Anastazja Harding

Sir James Fletcher Kawerau Museum, AICCM, IIC, Museums Aotearoa

Anastazja graduated in December 2018 as a Cultural Materials Conservator from the Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation, having specialised in Paintings Conservation and focused on the care of Southeast Asian cultural heritage. She undertook the position of Museum Curator at Sir James Fletcher Kawerau Museum in June 2019 and became a jack-of-all-trades through running the day-to-day life of the museum.

My New Zealand readers may know Kawerau by its infamous reputation in the news for being a low-economic, gang-dominated part of regional New Zealand. I see Mongrel Mob members every day, have experienced a full lockdown of our facilities due to an armed chase through the town centre walkways and many children and teens attempt to identify with the gang by wearing red and committing petty crimes. With this town’s reputation, is it no surprise that the existence of Sir James Fletcher Kawerau Museum is not widely known and is not in perfect working order? With the usual financial and resource hindrances many regional museums face, the Museum had been closed for over three years prior to my arrival in June 2019. The collection needed assessing, cleaning and relocating out from what I affectionately called ‘Silverfish Country.’ With the ‘ghosts of curators past’ living on in their unique cataloguing methods, identifying what had been digitised and accessioned, for me, involved some mind-bending. One could ask why I decided to engage with the young people of Kawerau by creating a museum internship?

Sir James Fletcher Kawerau Museum’s first museum internship reflection aims to outline reasons, hoped-for outcomes and an evaluation of the realities met with in attempting to provide opportunities for local youth via working with regional museum collections. The internship was designed to accommodate four students in Years 10-13 for five weeks and provide participants with the opportunity to learn about the basics of museum practice, including: the ethics of collection care and access, preventive conservation, handling and rehousing artefacts, exhibition planning, installing and presenting researched information.