Culture moves: Dance costumes of the Pacific

Culture Moves! Dance costumes of the Pacific 

Exhibition now closed
23 September 2005 – September 2006
Free entry


Culture Moves is a celebration of dance, and dance costumes, across thousands of kilometres of the Pacific Ocean – from Papua New Guinea in the west to Rapanui in the east, and from the tiny island of Banaba to the largest Polynesian city in the world, Auckland. Dance celebrates history, expresses belief, asserts identity – and dance costumes are a part of the drama and artistry of the dance itself.

Historical and contemporary come together in this exhibition. There are the tall fantastical eharo masks from Papua New Guinea, worn for the years-long hevehe ceremonies, and the bold geometric designs of a contemporary skirt from Tuvalu. Fibres customarily used in costume-making combine with new man-made materials – a male dancer from Kiribati wears a nuota or dance belt braided of human hair and a necklace of bright synthetic flowers.

In Culture Moves, you will see costumes made for some of the thousands of students who competed in the ASB Auckland Secondary Schools’ Maori and Pacific Islands Cultural Festival (Polyfest) in 2005. This colourful three-day event is the largest Polynesian dance festival in the world, and is held in Auckland each year. Families, friends, and the students themselves become the costume designers and makers.

A dance costume is best seen on the dancer, and photographs and audiovisuals will feature dancers in costume taking part in the rich spectacle of the dance itself.

Check out the dance costumes at the performance events.