Local Contexts

The Local Contexts Hub

Supporting Indigenous Communities globally and locally to manage and govern their own cultural heritage online. He kaupapa hirahira tēnei hei tiaki te mana.

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One of several global Local Contexts training sessions - this one facilitated in Te Kōhinga Mārama Marae, Hamilton, Aotearoa.

Te Tāhuhu

  • Client
  • Local Contexts
  • Industry
  • Indigenous Data Sovereignty, Intellectual Property
  • Skills
  • Research, Strategy, Design

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IDIA founder Miriame Barbarich is introduced to Thomas Jefferson’s First Nations language assimilation documents in the Archives of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia USA.

Te Wero

Indigenous communities have limited control or access to their cultural heritage in archives and museums worldwide.

For many years there have been intellectual property issues that arise in relation to managing cultural heritage materials.

Indigenous communities are largely not the legal owners of their own cultural heritage, and significant information about these collections are missing. 

These issues of ownership and attribution have continued to affect the digital history of these items. This has created more access to cultural heritage material that's not properly documented on the system.

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He Whakatika

Local Contexts was established to support Indigenous and traditional communities to understand their rights over their cultural heritage, knowledge, assets and futures. 

Local Contexts developed Labels and Notices that successfully provided a mechanism for American First Nations peoples – the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot Nation, Sq’éwlets and Plateau Peoples - to assert cultural authority over their heritage.

In December 2019, IDIA were invited to New York and worked with Local Contexts founder Jane Anderson to engage with the New York State Museum and the American Philosophical Society as they implemented the Labels. This has led to us being engaged in conversations and advisory groups with many of the world's largest cultural institutions as they implement the Labels and Notices. Institutions include the Smithsonian, The American Library of Congress, the Natural History Museum, the Abbey Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, NASA and many more.

IDIA were brought on as design partners to research, design and deliver an MVP tool that would support Indigenous communities in the use and application of their digital IP Labels and Notices into digital infrastructures.

As an Indigenous-led agency this vision was something we instantly wanted to support, understanding that as Māori we were also a highly documented race with many of our taonga under the protection of non-māori, and out of reach for Māori today to understand their cultural history and where they come from.

We worked with the Local Contexts team to bring structure and functionality to the delivery of a robust tool that ensures Indigenous communities voice and traditional protocols are visible within digital archives where their cultural heritage is managed.

We were guided by the whakatauki Ka Mua, Ka Muri (walking backwards into the future) and our Culture Centred Design (CCD) philosophy to ensure designed outcomes are led, framed and informed by Indigenous people, knowledge and ways of being.

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Ngā Hua o te Kaupapa

In 2021, the beta version of the Local Contexts Hub was released.

As of 13 March 2023 the Hub has seen the following success:

  • 250 Indigenous Communities, Institutions and Researchers have registered.
  • 130 projects have been created
  • 145 Labels have been applied by Indigenous Communities


We have successfully supported Whakatōhea and Manaaki Whenua to Label 1202 Indigenous items and collections.

We have helped our clients develop a learning platform to further support them to use the tool and learn more about IP and Indigenous Data Sovereignty.

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