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Auckland Museum’s Celebrated Pacific Collections Access Project closes this weekend

The Cook Islands community kicked off the project in 2016. PC: Auckland Museum

Since 2016, more than 5600 Pacific taonga have been shared with 13 Pacific communities as a part of Auckland Museum’s Pacific Collections Access Project (PCAP), which closes this weekend.

About 5688 taonga have each been handled and had knowledge shared by members of the respective Pacific communities they belong to. This took place on multiple community days held at the Museum over three years, with more than 7000 people taking part. Each object has been conserved, photographed, re-housed and, where appropriate, been made available online.

Auckland Museum Director of Collections and Research David Reeves says PCAP has been ground-breaking in its work with Auckland Pacific Island communities.

“Never before have we worked so closely with people so intimately associated with objects in our collection on this scale. Not only have our relationships across communities grown, we have enhanced understanding and appreciation of a vast range of Pacific treasures in the Museum’s care,” he says.

Auckland Museum Director of Collections and Research David Reeves says the project has been about more than just objects. PC: Auckland Museum

From musical instruments to weapons, textiles to carvings, tools to ornaments and adornments, the project has enabled the Pacific collection to be better known, cared for and to be more accessible onsite, offsite and online. This success of this project is another major step in the evolution of the Museum’s vision to improve access to the collections, and the Museum’s Pacific dimension expressed in Teu Le Vā.

In total 13 Pacific Island nations worked with 5688 taonga. The first nation to come through the project was people from the Cook Islands, who worked with 946 objects. As each nation completed working with their items, they would hand over the project to the following nation. Fiji was next and saw 1328 objects, then French Polynesia who saw 376; followed by Hawaii 215; Kiribati 1148; Niue 275; Samoa 461; Tokelau 230; Tonga 539; Tuvalu 111; Pitcairn Island 13; Rapa Nui 24; Uvea/Wallis and Futuna 22.

Auckland Museum Tumuaki – Director of Māori and Pacific Development Linnae Pohatu says these objects are now much richer because they have been re-connected to their people through this work.

“We are excited about the way taonga has brought the Museum closer to Pacific communities and we hope that this work will deepen the relationships for the benefit of Pacific communities first, and for visitors to Auckland Museum,” she says.

David Reeves says the project has been about more than just objects. “It’s about the people we have engaged with. We’ve shared knowledge and we’ve also shared laughter, songs, tears and memories. It’s been an unforgettable experience.”

Auckland Museum is committed to continuing to work closely with Pacific communities across Auckland in a range of other museum initiatives.

Watch below for a look back at where it all began…

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