A Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Master of Applied Indigenous Knowledge tauira is the inaugural winner of a Sir Hugh Kawharu Research Grant.
Kayreen Tapuke received $5000 from the Sir Hugh Kawharu Foundation in October, through a partnership the trust has with Auckland Museum, which will go towards her He Waka Hiringa studies.
"It was a fantastic ceremony and a wonderful occasion," says the Kura Kaupapa Māori kaiako.
"Sir Hugh Kawharu was a very prestigious member of the Auckland Museum trust for more than 30 years and both my brother and partner were taught by him at Auckland Uni, so I knew it would be amazing."
The working title of her MA thesis, 'An indigenous journey to revitalise the cultural memories as seen and heard by our Ngai Tai Pakeke', aims to create a legacy for the mokopuna of her kaumātua.
Part of her work involves looking at the naturalistic paintings that were applied on the marae walls of Torerenui-a-rua in 1901.
During the 1950's they were painted over but not before Mick Pendegrast, a Torere Native School teacher at the time, managed to take photographic plates of them.
The plate collection is with Auckland Museum and when Kayreen asked to look at her iwi taonga, she also discovered the scholarship available.
"I filled out an application form and linked it tightly to my whakapapa with Ngā Tai ki Umupuia and the Auckland Museum via Mick Pendergrast," she says.
"The Museum has his collection and that's what I'm searching for. I'm eager to get in there as it's quite a big part of my rangahau."
Not only did her whānau gift the land that Torerenui-a-rua was built on, some of the painters were also her tipuna. The works are also published Painted Histories, Roger Neich's book about whare tipuna artwork at the turn of last century.
With affiliations to Whakatōhea, Taranaki, Ngāti Porou and Tūhoe as well, the 50-year-old says she looks forward to working with Auckland Museum.
Auckland Museum Director Roy Clare says the museum is delighted that research will be carried out to shed new light, share knowledge and support their commitment to re-connecting taonga with communities.
Kawharu Foundation chair, Amokura Kawharu, says the Trustees are pleased to partner with the Museum to support scholars of such high calibre.
Kayreen first heard about He Waka Hiringa through her sister-in-law and immediately say an opportunity for relationship healing.
"I've taken it with both hands; the whenua and our people," she says.
"It's been a wonderful experience in all ways; to uplift our people and celebrate all that is wonderful and unique about ourselves."