Selected objects 

You will find below a selection of objects from the exhibition. The full list is available in the online exhibition catalogue.

Te Papa's version of the Paperskin exhibition includes three examples of tapa from its own collection. These three pieces are shown below. The list of objects in the catalogue, however, does not include these three additional objects as they were not part of the exhibition in Australia.

Download the full list of objects | pdf, 409 kb 

Mask, Orokolo, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea

Mask, Orokolo, Gulf Province, Papua New Guinea

Not all tapa is intended to be hung, used as screens, or wrapped around the body. This Orokolo mask from Papua New Guinea’s Gulf Province is made of bark cloth over a cane frame. Masks like these are often worn in ceremonies which evoke and make visible the spirit world.
Collection: Queensland Museum

Ngatu, Tonga

Ngatu, 1940s, Tonga

Symbols of the bonds between Tonga, Britain, and the United States during World War II feature in this ngatu (tapa) – a British lion, the American eagle, the Tongan coat of arms, and aeroplanes. Tonga is one of the few Pacific countries where tapa is used to record historical events.
See in our online collections

Siapo mamanu, American Samoa.

Siapo mamanu, about 1905, American Samoa

Siapo mamanu is a technique for painting freehand onto tapa cloth. It was very popular from the late 19th century to the 1920s. Women would combine common motifs such as shells, leaves, animals, and even church windows to create spectacular designs.
See in our online collections

Masi bola, Fiji.

Masi bola, Fiji

Large Fijian masi (tapa) like this often played a key part in weddings. Masi might be hung as a backdrop during the important gift-giving ceremony, or as a screen separating the bed chamber from wedding guests. These masi were designed to be viewed from both sides.
See in our online collections

Hiapo, 19th century, Niue.

Hiapo, mid-1800s, Niue

The dynamic geometric patterns and intricate motifs on this hiapo (tapa) from Niue show the influence of Samoan missionaries. Hiapo were made by small communities or at mission schools to record local events and conditions. Some feature colonial figures, introduced plants, and ships.
See in our online collections

Kapa, 1770s, Hawai’i.

Kapa, 1770s, Hawai‘i

This fragment of Hawaiian kapa (tapa) may have been collected during Captain James Cook’s Pacific travels: certainly, the crew on his third voyage (1776–80) collected many such examples. Made by stitching together smaller pieces, kapa was an art that nearly disappeared in the 19th century. It was revived in the 1960s. 
See in our online collections

Anga, 2008, Cook Islands
Only at Te Papa

Anga, 2008, Cook Islands

This large and stunning anga (decorated tapa) is a significant addition to our very small collection of 19th and early 20th-century tapa from the Cook Islands. It was made in 2008 and marks a renewed contemporary interest in tapa manufacture on the island of Mangaia.
See in our online collections

Ngatu launima, 1955, Tonga
Only at Te Papa

Ngatu launima, 1953,

Tonga

This ngatu launima was associated with two queens. Made in 1953 to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to Tonga. It was later placed under Queen Salote’s coffin when her body was flown back from New Zealand in 1965. The tapa was given to Flight Lieutenant McAllister, the pilot of the plane that took Queen Salote’s body back to Tonga, and he in turn presented it to the Dominion Museum (Te Papa’s predecessor) in 1968.
See in our online collections

Read about the challenge of installing this special tapa, on Te Papa's blog 

Siapo mamanu, American Samoa
Only at Te Papa

Siapo mamanu, early 1990s, American Samoa

This is a siapo mamanu decorated with patterns using a freehand style painting. The motifs used in this process are based on plants and animals. The freehand nature of siapo mamanu decoration allows the artist to create very distinctive and individual pieces of siapo.
See in our online collections