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Topic: Highlights from the Pacific Cultures Collection

Is part of topic Pacific Cultures at Te Papa

The Pacific Collection has been shaped by changing institutional and curatorial priorities, which have in turn been influenced by the history of New Zealand as a Pacific nation, the roles that New Zealanders have played in the Pacific islands, and the migration of Pacific peoples to New Zealand in recent decades.

What began as a comparative collection of ethnographic ‘specimens’ - in other words, objects collected in the scientific study of peoples and cultures - has broadened to include contemporary works by known artists. This expansion of the collection’s scope has tended to blur the boundaries between the Pacific, Maori, History, and Art and Visual Culture Collections.

The nucleus of the collection is a small but important group of items acquired by the Colonial Museum in the nineteenth century. They include objects given by British administrators in the Pacific, such as Sir Arthur Gordon and the Marquess of Normanby, and the gift in 1872 by the Rarotongan chief Te Aia of his splendid cloak.

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