Curiosity and collections : the changing role of the amateur in preserving local history : the life and work of Keith Raymond Cairns : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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In examining the life and work of Keith Cairns, a twentieth century amateur anthropologist from the Wairarapa, we can begin to explore the extent to which amateur scholars like Cairns were allowed access to traverse and research their communities and how this changed over time with the rise of professionalism. Professionals, to an extent, create their own professional identity by working towards qualifications, developing their status and allowing them to cloak themselves with a widely recognised and respected authority in the eyes of the communities they occupy or research. Amateurism acts as a substitute for qualifications, with amateur scholars primarily being created by and rooted in the communities they occupy while their interactions shape who they are as scholars, cloaking them in an authority recognised and respected by their communities. Amateur scholars have been able to intersect and move between their communities as they studied them as they are established ‘insiders’ with a stake in those communities, trusted to tell their stories. This study examines the life of Keith Cairns through the significant collection of papers, images and artefacts left to the Alexander Turnbull Library upon his death in 1987, along with interviews with family members and other evidence supplied by Keith’s family. Use is made of the academic journals and centennial and golden jubilee publications associated with two organisations that Keith actively supported and participated in, and which became more associated with the academy than with amateurs over Keith’s lifetime: the Polynesian Society and the Archaeological Association of New Zealand. Evidence from the Wairarapa Archives and other local sources are also utilised. An analysis of the evidence highlights how Keith’s dedication to his faith, work, and local communities, both Māori and Pākehā, from an early age allowed him to move between and across all of them as an 'insider.' He was accepted and trusted with the knowledge he gained in his endeavours to learn and share what he had learned with those around him. He was able to cross academic, economic, social and cultural boundaries allowing him to become recognised by Māori and Pākehā alike as 'the foremost authority on Māori prehistory in the Wairarapa' of his time. In doing so, Cairns was able to gather a substantial collection which provides researchers with a ready wealth of evidence, even as the professionalisation of anthropology observed in the latter half of the twentieth century began to diminish the mana of the amateur scholar.