News Item

Auckland Museum's Pacific Collections Access Project closes after three years

News 8 Aug 2019

Since 2016, more than 5600 Pacific taonga have been shared with 13 Pacific communities as part of Auckland Museum's Pacific Collections Access Project (PCAP), which came to a close over the weekend.

PCAP was an initiative in Tamaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum's larger collection readiness project to prepare for the building works currently taking

place which will transform the visitor experience.

About 5688 taonga have each been handled and had knowledge shared by members of the respective Pacific communities they belong to. This took place on multiple community days held at the Museum over three-years, with more than 7000 people taking part.

Each object has then been conserved, photographed, re-housed and, where appropriate, been made available online.

Auckland Museum Director of Collections and Research David Reeves says PCAP has been ground-breaking in its work with Auckland Pacific Island communities.

"Never before have we worked so closely with people so intimately associated with objects in our collection on this scale. Not only have our relationships across communities grown, we have enhanced understanding and appreciation of a vast range of Pacific treasures in the Museum's care," he says.

From musical instruments to weapons, textiles to carvings, tools to ornaments and adornments, the project has enabled the Pacific collection to be better known, cared for and to be more accessible onsite, offsite and online.

Reeves says this reflects the Museum's mission to be a kaitiaki for current and future generations. "Caring for this building, and the collections, and the Museum's Pacific dimension expressed in Teu Le Vā*.

The first nation to come through the project was people from the Cook Islands, who worked with 946 objects. As each nation completed working with their items, they would hand over the projects to the following nations:

  • Fiji with 1328 objects
  • French Polynesia with 376 objects
  • Hawaii with 215 objects
  • Kiribati with 1148 objects
  • Niue with 275 objects
  • Samoa with 461 objects
  • Tokelau with 230 objects
  • Tonga with 539 objects
  • Tuvalu with 111 objects
  • Pitcairn Islands with 13 objects
  • Rapa Nui with 24 objects
  • Uvea/Wallis and Futuna with 22 objects

Auckland Museum Tumuaki - Director of Māori and Pacific Development Linnae Pohatu says these objects are now much richer because they have been re-connected to their people through this work.

"We are excited about the way in taonga has brought the Museum closer to Pacific communities and we hope that this work will deepen the relationships for the benefit of Pacific communities first, and for visitors to Auckland Museum," she says.

David Reeves says this project has put Auckland Museum on the radar of other Museums internationally.

"We've had a lot of interest from other museums around the world in this project, in how they might follow our lead in working with communities to enhance the knowledge and care of their objects," he says.

Reeves says the project has been about more than just objects.

"It's about the people we have engaged with, we've shared knowledge and we've also shared laughter, songs, tears and memories, it's been an unforgettable experience."

Auckland Museum is committed to continuing to work closely with Pacific communities across Auckland in a range of other museum initiatives.

*Teu le Vā: The Pacific Dimension at Auckland Museum

Auckland Museum is proud to have a strong Pacific dimension and is working to build on this to ensure our Pacific collections and communities are embraced and celebrated.

Auckland Museum's Pacific Advisory Group assists the Museum in developing a stronger Pacific dimension. The aim is to better reflect Auckland's rich, contemporary Pacific culture and improve the under-representation of visitation by Pacific people and increase their engagement with Museum programmes.

Alongside establishing the Pacific Advisory Group, the Museum has published a document titled Teu le Vā, which outlines what is meant by 'creating a strong Pacific dimension'.

Image: Auckland Museum Pacific Collections Access Project