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Manatū Taonga welcomes first Senior Pacific Historian

Media release: 10 February 2023

Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage has appointed Rachel Yates (Vaisala, Savaii) as its first Pou Hītori Moananui-a-Kiwa Senior Pacific Historian.

“We are thrilled to welcome Rachel to the Manatū Taonga whare,” said Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae, Tumu Whakarae Secretary for Culture and Heritage and Chief Executive.

“The role of Pou Hītori Moananui-a-Kiwa has been created to ensure that the histories of Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand are documented and preserved for future generations.

“One of the key focusses of this role will be working with the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and the Pasifika community to create a comprehensive historical record of the Dawn Raids period, a project which was announced as part of the Government’s Dawn Raids apology in 2021.

“This project represents an additional gesture of reconciliation and recognises the vital role of preserving and sharing histories in the healing process for Pacific peoples in Aotearoa.

“Rachel brings a wealth of experience as a Pacific historian to this significant project, and we are excited to help her shape this new role,” said Leauanae Laulu Mac Leauanae.  

Rachel comes to Manatū Taonga from Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, where she worked as a Pacific Cultures and Histories Curator specialising in projects with Pacific communities within New Zealand and the wider Pacific region.

Some of her projects include co-collecting climate change stories in Tokelau, a local community tapa cloth exhibition, and Making Histories: Communities and Covid-19. Her doctoral research in Pacific Studies at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington is a qualitative project that explores gendered skilled migration in the 21st century and the experiences of Pasifika women teaching English in South Korea.

Rachel Yates said of her new position, “In accepting this role, I accept our collective commitment to advocate for, resource, and preserve Pasifika histories. I am humbled by the opportunity and look forward to working closely with Manatū Taonga staff, Ministry for Pacific Peoples, institutional partners, and most importantly our Pasifika communities in creating a robust resource to record Pasifika histories.

“The Dawn Raids project offers a valuable opportunity to acknowledge and honour the strength and resilience of our parents and grandparents who created new homes and communities, despite the discrimination and hardship they faced. As a child of the migration - thank you for your endurance and your sacrifice.”

Rachel Yates will start her new role at Manatū Taonga in mid February 2023.

Manatū Taonga has appointed Rachel Yates (Vaisala, Savaii) as its first Pou Hītori Moananui-a-Kiwa Senior Pacific Historian.

Rachel Yates (Vaisala, Savaii). Photo: supplied.

Updated on 20th February 2023