Monday, 14 May 2012

Renewal of a Māori Waka at the National Museums Scotland

Detail of the Waka after conservation (image from JCMS)
Don't miss the latest JCMS article, a very interesting discussion on the conservation of a  Māori Waka at the National Museums Scotland (NMS).

The Waka was away from public view for many years due to its incompleteness and poor condition. 


Conservator Charles Stable worked in collaboration with George Nuku, a Māori carver. As you will see, their interventions are quite innovative as Nuku used a variety of materials to carve the missing parts of the Waka.  Besides all the 'material aspects' of the treatment, the paper describes the relationships that developed between artist, curator and conservator involved in the process. Really interesting!

Do take a look at the article and let us know what you think!


  1. Charles Stable18 May 2012 at 09:01

    A short film with interviews with George Nuku can be found at

    Charles stable

  2. This is a fantastic article and I think represents the best of working in collaboration with indiginous artisans on conservation projects. Fascinating use of the PMMA, and an amazing result. My only comment is that the clear, bright, beautiful carving in PMMA attracts the eye so effectively as to be somewhat distracting from the original carving, so that it might be difficult to see it as a whole. I wonder if using tinted PMMA (maybe a transparent amber color) was considered? Not sure if it is even available, and I guess it would have been hard to make the cast polyurethane taurapa match, but it might have helped integrate the two carving traditions, provided there was no objection from the contemporary carver. This might also have mitigated some of the problems of future yellowing and maybe other UV effects. But these thoughts are all whimsey not to be considered any kind of criticism. Amazing work and kudos to all involved in this somewhat groundbreaking endeavor!

  3. Charles Stable6 June 2012 at 15:04

    Many thanks for your comments, George Nuku's preference has been for untinted PMMA and the way that light is reflected off and transmitted through its surfaces. On your point about distracting from the original carving this is an area I am interested in myself and I hope to be conducting some visitor research to see what the public perception of the Waka is and what they look at most.


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