Connecting Pacific communities through their taonga

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

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

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.

“The taonga have been shared, and the depth of the relationships between the Auckland Museum and the Pacific Island communities has been strengthened through this initiative," says Pohatu.

“The project between Auckland Museum and Pacific Island nations is about correcting the narratives pertaining to those taonga with the knowledge holders and the elders from the thirteen nations.”

The thirteen nations involved include the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Hawai'i, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu, Pitcairn Island, Rapa Nui, Uvea/Wallis and Futuna.

“Before this initiative, the Pacific Island communities didn't come to The Auckland War Memorial Museum. They didn't see the benefit in coming to us.  But from this project, they are closer to their taonga", says Pohatu.

Each object has been photographed and, where appropriate, images have been made available online.

Pohatu says, “The taonga have been re-housed, and we will continue to work with the Pacific Island communities, to pursue other projects in the near future.”

The Auckland Museum will explore ways in which to further develop these relationships.