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Object: Mu’umu’u (dress)

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Title Mu’umu’u (dress)
Materials cotton
Classification dresses
Dimensions Overall: 1110mm (Length) x 595mm (Width)
Credit line Purchased 2009
Registration number FE012459

The mu’umu’u is an example of the indigenous adoption of European clothing in the Pacific Islands.  It is also known as the “mother hubbard” or vinivo in parts of island Melanesia.

Before Christian missionaries from Europe arrived in the Pacific Islands at the end of the eighteenth century, Pacific Islanders usually wore loin cloths, short skirts, or went without clothing. The missionaries introduced their ideas of decency and fashion to the communities in which they settled, and indigenous items of clothing were replaced by trousers, jackets and long flowing European dresses such as the Mother Hubbard. Such garments were uncomfortable and unsuitable for the climate. However, Pacific Islanders took some of the elements of European fashion, successfully combining them with elements of their own - and have been doing so ever since.

Mere Tepaeru Tereora

This mu'umu'u dress is one of several that were made for Mere Tepaeru Tereora, the fifth National President for P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A, (a New Zealand based Pacific women’s organisation). The mu’umu’u were made and gifted to Mrs Tereora by various branches of the organisation. This example was made by the P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A Mt Eden Branch in Auckland.

P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A (The Pacific Allied (Women's) Council Inspires Faith Ideals Concerning All Incorporation) was established in 1977 to create an opportunity for Pacific women to support and encourage one another to participate in the wider community, especially in issues that affect them and their families. P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A has branches from Whangarei to Invercargill and these branches are affiliated to the national body. Internationally members of the organisation have participated in the United Nations Committee on the status of women and women's conferences held in the Pacific. various branches of the organisation.

Acquisition History

This mu’umu’u was acquired from Mrs Tereora in 2008.

Related information

Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.