The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa has been celebrated as an international leader for its bicultural concept and partnership with Māori in all aspects of the museum, but how does this relationship with the indigenous partner work in practice? Biculturalism at New Zealand’s National Museum reveals the challenges, benefits and politics of implementing a bicultural framework in everyday museum practice. Providing an analysis of the voices of museum employees, the book reflects their multifaceted understandings of biculturalism and collaboration.

Based on a year of intensive fieldwork behind the scenes at New Zealand’s national museum and drawing on 68 interviews and participant observations with 18 different teams across the organisation, this book examines the interactions and cultural clashes between Māori and non-Māori museum professionals in their day-to-day work. Documenting and analysing contemporary museum practices, this account explores how biculturalism is enacted, negotiated, practised and envisioned on different stages within the complex social institution that is the museum. Lessons learnt from Te Papa will be valuable for other museums, NGOs, the public service and organisations facing similar issues around the world.

Biculturalism at New Zealand’s National Museum addresses a gap in the literature on biculturalism and reaffirms the importance of ethnography to the anthropological enterprise and museum studies research. As such, it will be essential reading for academics, researchers and postgraduate students in the fields of cultural anthropology, museum anthropology, museum studies, and Māori studies or indigenous studies. It should also be of great interest to museum professionals.

chapter |32 pages


Background and historical context
ByTanja Schubert-McArthur

chapter 1|23 pages

Establishing biculturalism

Constructing Te Papa and implementing biculturalism
ByTanja Schubert-McArthur

chapter 2|12 pages

Interpreting biculturalism

Theory and staff perceptions
ByTanja Schubert-McArthur

chapter 3|20 pages

Performing biculturalism

Creating Te Marae and conducting Pōwhiri (Māori welcome ceremonies)
ByTanja Schubert-McArthur

chapter 4|23 pages

Learning biculturalism

Training staff and educating the public
ByTanja Schubert-McArthur

chapter 5|21 pages

Enacting biculturalism

Organisational culture
ByTanja Schubert-McArthur

chapter 6|22 pages

Tackling biculturalism

Cultural clashes around human remains and Taonga Māori
ByTanja Schubert-McArthur

chapter 7|23 pages

Grasping biculturalism

Knowledge transfer and staff transformation
ByTanja Schubert-McArthur

chapter 8|12 pages


The future of biculturalism
ByTanja Schubert-McArthur

chapter |2 pages


ByAwhina Tamarapa