nā Maewa Kaihau
The International Indigenous Librarians’ Forum is held every two years for the purpose of providing a “focused exploration of the significant issues facing libraries and institutions that care for indigenous and cultural information” (International Indigenous Librarians’ Forum Proceedings, Te Rōpū Whakahau, 2001). It allows a meeting place for indigenous librarians and information management workers to discuss, debate and describe their experience of working within the industry and their visions, hopes and expectations for the future.
The forum arose from a network of indigenous library professionals from Aotearoa, Australia and America in recognition of a commonality of ‘indigenous’ experience within the profession and a vision to articulate indigenous viewpoints in all aspects of information management.
The first forum was held in Auckland, New Zealand and hosted by Te Rōpū Whakahau (an affiliation of Māori professionals within the information management industry) in 1999 with successive forums held in Sweden, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Saskatchewan, Canada and Brisbane, Australia.
Over the last ten years the forum has explored the commonality of indigenous minority experiences against a background of colonization, acculturation and disenfranchisement socially, economically and culturally. The enduring themes from each forum focus on issues of indigenous sovereignty and self-determination over how information/knowledge and in particular how indigenous information/knowledge is collected, maintained and disseminated alongside an overriding recognition of the importance of indigenous/native language in all aspects of indigenous autonomy.
Te Rōpū Whakahau has always maintained a large presence at each forum and, in partnership with Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa, joint-hosted the 6th International Indigenous Librarians’ Forum which was held at Te Wānanga-o-Raukawa, Ōtaki, Aotearoa in 2009.