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5,000 Kāi Tahu adzes digitised by Museum staff

Taoka digi press release blog 1 SM

The Otago Museum has recently completed a significant milestone in its Taoka Digitisation Project, completing the digitisation of approximately 5,000 Kāi Tahu adzes in just under a year.

Adzes (or toki) were woodworking tools that were lashed to a wooden haft. Shaped into a roughout by pecking or flaking the chosen rock with a hammer stone, the surface was then hammer-dressed before being polished smooth on a wet grinding stone.

The project, which is led by a team of two full-time Taoka Online staff working with 14 volunteers, was last year awarded $395,448 from the Lottery WW1 Commemorations, Environment and Heritage Fund. The goal is to assess and digitise the Museum’s vast southern Māori collection, making culturally appropriate material more accessible to the community, allowing the Museum to provide a rich online resource.

Otago Museum houses one of the largest collections of Kāi Tahu taoka in the world, with over 30,000 registered objects and a further 670 registered lots. While not all of the objects in the collection will be digitised, a target of 20,000 digitised taoka has been set for the three-year project.

Fiona Glasgow, Project Coordinator, Taoka Online Project, sees the undertaking of digitisation projects as imperative for museums that want to make their collections more accessible.

“Not only do digitisation projects like this give people that can’t come into the Museum an opportunity to interact with the objects, it also provides an excellent resource for researchers – locally, nationally and internationally.”

With the completion of the adzes, attention now turns to the digitisation of the Museum’s 5,000-strong collection of fishhooks. The next two years will also see the launch of the Museum’s outreach programme, working directly with marae and community groups to assist them with the digitisation and management of their own taoka collections.


Taoka digi press release blog 2 SM


Taoka digi press release blog 3 SM

Images: Otago Museum