Auckland Museum is proud to be home to thousands of Maori taonga (ancestral treasures) and one of the most extensive collections of Pacific artefacts in the world. Museum visitors are invited to explore the history and significance of these cultural riches at Te Kakano, the Museum's Pacific Resource Centre. Public workstations at Te Kakano provide an interactive learning environment with virtual galleries and a range of multimedia presentations. Many of Te Kakano's resources are also available online through MUSE, a web-based interface which enables the public to access a database of over 1,500 Pacific artefacts.
The MUSE system and the Te Kakano computer interface were developed by Atlantech for Auckland Museum. Atlantech's software solutions have proved invaluable to Museum visitors wishing to learn more about Pacific cultures and the Museum's collection of valuable taonga and artefacts.
Te Kakano's workstations employ a simple graphical interface for ease of navigation. Visitors can explore the Museum's Pacific artefacts by selecting from three categories: Maori, Pacific and Ko Tawa (a special collection of 236 taonga acquired by Captain Gilbert Mair).
The Te Kakano workstations enable users to view geographical maps and virtual galleries for the Pacific and Maori collections. The maps allow visitors to view the Museum's collection of artefacts from each region, while the QuickTime virtual galleries provide an interactive 360 degree walkthrough of the Museum's Pacific galleries. By zooming in or out, virtual gallery users can view particular objects or displays and get a general feel for the layout of the galleries. This interactive feature is particularly popular with children.
Visitors who would like a general overview of the Museum's collections can browse artefacts by using simple navigation buttons, while visitors with more specific needs can use the search function. Basic searches allow visitors to seek out artefacts by keywords, such as ‘architectural carvings', ‘canoes', or ‘textiles'. An advanced search function is also available, enabling visitors to enter search terms into various categories. The search categories for the Maori collection include region, waka, iwi, and hapu, while users can search the Pacific collection by place of origin, island group, island, and more.
Search results are displayed graphically and arranged by artefact type. For example, searching for body adornments allows visitors to choose from a variety of categories, including belts, hats, and jewellery. A number of artefacts are displayed in each category. Selecting an artefact brings up a record with an image, a short description, and details about the origins of the artefact. Simple ‘back' and ‘forward' buttons allow users to navigate records and results with ease.
The Ko Tawa database includes a geographical map and both basic and advanced search functions. A list of all the taonga in the collection is also included. This is especially useful because only a portion of the Ko Tawa collection is publicly displayed at the Museum. Visitors can also read about Captain Gilbert Mair and the origins of his unique collection of taonga. In addition, an online educational package is also available. The educational package includes a series of questions about the Ko Tawa collection which can be answered online, allowing teachers and children to interact directly with Museum staff.
This online interactivity was made possible by Atlantech's MUSE database and search engine platform. MUSE also enables the public to perform online searches for kete, Pacific canoes, and tapa cloths. The entire Ko Tawa collection can also be searched from the Museum's website.
Since opening in 2003, Te Kakano has become increasingly popular with visitors wishing to discover the Museum's collections of Maori and Pacific treasures. The public now has even greater access to the Museum's unique Pacific collections, as more records are being made available online. With Atlantech's ongoing support and software solutions, the Museum's commitment to Maori and Pacific cultural heritage continues to grow.