‘ARE PASIFIKA’: the display of Pacific collections, old and new, in Aotearoa New Zealand
Thank you to all presenters in this session.
Thank you Nina, Lisa and Hamish for the presentation about 'ARE PASIFIKA'.
Nina, your descriptions of the Pasifika objects in terms of the relationships between them (vā) and the power in them (mana) was really powerful in showing the importance of the language we use and the limitations of English for describing different ways of knowing. I also found your articulation of the time-less nature of these objects incredibly important for understanding what happens when objects are framed in specific ways. Your words: 'There is no past and present. They live in the in-between, which is the var' really resonated with me.
It is great to hear that the project was such as positive experience for Pasifika peoples living in Ōtautahi . Are there any aspects of the project that will be developed further with or by the local community?
Kia orana Enya
Thank you for your time,
It was very important for me to provide or give back the Mana of these items respecting and holding the Va between the items,their makers and their people. When looking through the Museums store rooms and opening their boxes they just radiated energy, like they belonged in your hands forever. I do not pretend to fully understand what the Va is not being a Pacific speaker myself although it resonates with me and gives weight to the spiritual connections I feel.Somethings are so deeply encoded in language that coming up with a meaning seems to deflect from it. It is somewhere between tangible and entangle, a spirit that links us to everything and everyone, a poetic thread that pulls and binds circling all that is and was. I agree that using the Language in which items were made enables us to explore or have greater understanding of their meaning and purpose.
Museums and collection houses 99% of the time are only interested in the function, anthropological and ethnographic facts of Pacific items. This is deeply concerning to me as we see the effects of colonization, globalization and capitalism exploded in the Pacific. If language and Pacific modes of thinking are not used with our taonga in-regards to safe keeping and display we will lose the deep and powerful knowledge they hold. Which I am sure is the case for many other indigenous cultures.
Capturing this knowledge and learning about these objects and how to reclaim them spiritual as living objects has become a real passion and since creating a relationship with the Museum it has lead to further display and exploration of these themes. In 2019 exhibition VaOceansBetween held by Christchurch City Council showcased a larger amount of Pacific objects.local Pacific visual artists, Poets and theater groups created new work inspired by the items and were displayed along side them. This aligned with 'Are Pasifika as the new items were not seen as separate from the Taonga presented just an extension of them. It was widely attended and in the months it was on saw over 200,000 visitors. '
As a further development Are Pasifika empowered me to start a charitable Trust Tagata Moana. Where Pacific knowledge systems such as these items drive STEM education and experiences for Pacific peoples. These programs ask New Zealand Pacific peoples to learn about these objects, document their reactions and knowledge about them and re-make or interpret them through new technologies and materials.