This exhibition is the story of Pacific people past and present, in all areas of life – on the street, on the sports field, in the recording studio, on the political stage, and beyond. There are highs, and there are lows – from the dawn raids of the 1970s to Tana Umaga becoming first Pacific captain of the All Blacks. Exhibits range from ancient vaka (canoes) to contemporary jewellery to ‘Pacific Beats’, an interactive that lets you remix the sounds of Pacific musicians like Bill Sevesi, Fat Freddy’s Drop, and OMC.
Enter the exhibition by passing beneath a major new sculptural work by acclaimed Tongan-born artist Filipe Tohi – just one example of how Pacific people are making waves in the art world. Be confronted by the Cook Islands vaka Tauhunu, one of only three such vaka that survive worldwide.
Then explore one of the greatest feats of Pacific people in New Zealand, when they became the first people to step foot on these shores some 800 years ago. Also discover the little-known stories of Pacific people who came here in the 1800s, at a time when New Zealand’s leaders dreamed of creating their own empire in the Pacific.
Find out about the Pacific soldiers who fought and died for New Zealand in the two world wars. And hear Pacific migrants from the 1960s and 1970s talk about their experiences – good and bad – of moving to New Zealand.
A highlight of the exhibition is the Samoan fine mat gifted to Helen Clark in 2002. The gift acknowledged Clark’s apology for injustices during New Zealand’s almost 50-year administration of Samoa (1914–62).
So, New Zealand is a Pacific place in location and history. But do New Zealanders consider themselves Pacific Islanders? Do you? Come and decide for yourself.
A Pacific festival to celebrate the opening of the exhibition transformed Te Papa over Labour Weekend 2007. Events ranged from opera to hip hop, and all the big names were there, including Nesian Mystik, King Kapisi, Pauly Fuemana, and Pacific Underground.
>Check out the pics and videos from the Opening festival
> Have a peek at the exhibition, presented by What Now (video starting at 0.51 seconds)