From March 4-17 May 2019, Huni will be the RM Archive resident.
Over the next twelve weeks RM Archive will host reading room, a residency project engaging with three Karangahape Road reading rooms located at RM Gallery, Samoa House Library and Artspace Aotearoa. This project responds to each location with a focus on collections, communities and the use of space to consider the transformative potential of community repositories in the wake of a current crisis in tertiary arts education.
Reading rooms are a threshold to collections held within an archival institution. They aid the discovery of material and serve as a quiet space where one can read and study. Caswell et al. (2018) proposed the concept of ‘representational belonging’ to denote the ways in which community archives can empower people who have been marginalised by mainstream media and memory institutions, to have the autonomy and authority to establish, enact, and reflect on their presence in ways that are complex, meaningful, substantive, and positive to them in a variety of symbolic contexts.
In June 2018 The University of Auckland announced the closure of three creative arts libraries, including the Fine Arts Library, Architecture and Planning Library, and Music Library, despite opposition from students, faculty and the wider public. The University’s decision signals a move away from public to private information spaces, and the precarity of libraries in the face of wider political and economic forces.
This project asks how the document is sufficient in representing histories where there is no longer a thread of continuity, but rather a fracture, a discontinuity – the mark of which is obliteration, erasure and amnesia. Western information professions espouse the impulse to record, which is activated daily through an infrastructure of standards and restrictions. Within this paradigm however the cultural practices of peoples to whom much of this material originates are often left out of the picture. Is there more to connect us with our histories than the document alone?
Included in this conversation is the Tongan spatiotemporal concept and practices of tā-vā. Tā-vā is the symmetrical marking of time (tā) in space (vā), and this marking is understood to be arranged differently within and across cultures. Sitiveni Halapua (2000) identified the historical association between vā and the Tongan concept of hala (historical connection). Halapua argued that hala and vā are inseparable, and that “hala is the connection in space, vā.” Such embodied concepts of time and space are useful to a discussion of how access to information can instill a sense of belonging.
The kaupapa or methodology for this project draws on talanoa, a Tongan research practice which is an extension of the Pasifika practice of community-based, face-to-face knowledge sharing. Defined as the Pasifika way of open and informal discussion, the aim of talanoa is to challenge the siloing of knowledge and resist rigid hegemonic control.
A number of talanoa will take place at all three Karangahape Road reading rooms, with one general session to be held at the RM archive. All members of the community are invited to attend the RM Archive talanoa on:
Saturday 27 April 11-2pm
Please email Huni (email@example.com) if you would like to attend or if you have any questions or queries.
A printed publication will be produced at the project’s end and copies of the publication will be donated to all three repositories. Placing them within the RM Archive transforms this project from being ‘evidence of me’ to ‘evidence of us’ – a component of our collective memory.
Huni Mancini is a Tongan (Niuatoputapu/Mu’a) and Italian (Monti/Grillara) creative and information professional, currently employed at the University of Auckland’s Architecture & Planning Library and Archive of Māori and Pacific Sound, and previously the Fine Arts Library (2018-2019). She is completing a PGDip in Information Studies through Victoria University and graduated with an MA in Media Studies in 2018, for which she completed her research thesis, Mapping new terrain: self-determined Indigenous app and game development. She exhibited in New Perspectives with Simon Denny (Artspace, 2016), Dark Objects (The Dowse, 2017). Her work has appeared in BackStory (NZ), Diaspora Drama (London), and Lieu (Melbourne).
 Caswell, M.; Gabiola, J.; Zavala, J.; Brilmyer, G.; Cifor, M. (2018). “Imagining transformative spaces: the personal-political sites of community archives.” Archival Science, 2018, 18(1). p.76.
 Mereweather, C. (2006). The Archive (London: Whitechapel; Cambridge: MIT Press). p.12.
 Ka’ili, T.O. (2017). Marking Indigeneity: The Tongan Art of Sociospatial Relations. (Tucson: University of Arizona Press). p.34.
 Halapua, S. (2000). Meaning in Unity-Building: A Holistic Talanoa Perspective. (Korolevu, Fiji: Pacific Islands Development Program).
 Fairbairn-Dunlop, P. (2014). Talanoa: building a Pasifika research culture. (Auckland: Dunmore). p.16.
 McKemmish, S. (2005). Archives: Recordkeeping in Society (Wagga Wagga: Charles Sturt University). p.13.