Celebrated Pacific collection concludes

posted: 8:00 pm - 4th August 2019
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(Picture caption: The 15 Stars group visit the PCAP at Auckland Museum.Photo: Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira.)

After three years, the celebrated Auckland Museum’s Pacific Collections Access Project (PCAP) has come to a close.

Since 2016, more than 5600 Pacific taonga have been shared with 13 Pacific communities as a part of this unique project.

The Project 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 where appropriate and been made available online.

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

“Never before have we worked so closely with people so intimately associated with objects in our collection on this scale,” David says. 

“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.”

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.

This reflects the Museum’s mission to be a kaitiaki (the Māori term used for the concept of guardianship, for the sky, the sea, and the land) for current and future generations, Reeves adds.

“Caring for this building, and the collections and taonga is a core part of who and what we are at Auckland Museum and doing it with communities is vitally important.”  

This success of this project is another major step in the evolution of the Museum’s vision to improve access to 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 project to the following nation. Fiji was next and saw 1328 objects, then French Polynesia who saw 376; followed by Hawai’i 215; Kiribati 1148; Niue 275; Samoa 461; Tokelau 230; Tonga 539; Tuvalu 111; Pitcairn Island 13; Rapa Nui 24; Uvea/Wallis and Futuna 22.

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. 

This project has put Auckland Museum on the radar of other Museums internationally, and it is committed to continuing its work with Pacific communities.