Dr Safua Akeli Amaama appointed as Te Papa’s Head of History and Pacific Cultures

One of the Pacific’s leading Sāmoan studies scholars has been appointed as Te Papa’s new Head of History and Pacific Cultures.

The role leads a team of curators who research New Zealand history and the histories of Pacific people in New Zealand.

Dr Akeli Amaama comes to Te Papa from her previous role as the director of the Centre for Samoan Studies at the National University of Samoa.

Te Papa Chief Executive | Tumu Whakarae Courtney Johnston said the appointment was a cause for celebration for the museum.

“We are delighted to appoint someone of Dr Akeli Amaama’s calibre to this crucial leadership role,” Ms Johnston said.

“Te Papa was lucky enough to have Dr Akeli Amaama as our curator of Pacific cultures for five years, and we are excited to welcome her back into the Te Papa whānau.”

Dr Akeli Amaama was a curator of Pacific cultures at Te Papa from 2008 to 2013.

Te Papa’s Kaihautū Dr Arapata Hakiwai said that Dr Akeli Amaama brought a fantastic range of experience to the role.

“As well as her experience in curation and research, Dr Akeli Amaama brings wide experience in collaborating with communities,” Dr Hakiwai says.

“She has exactly the kind of experience and leadership we need at Te Papa, as a museum where the principle of mana taonga – connecting treasures to their source communities – is at the heart of everything we do.”

Dr Akeli Amaama will retain her roles as an Adjunct Research Fellow in the Museum and Heritage Studies programme at Victoria University, and as an Associate Researcher for the Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.


Safua Akeli Amaama, 2020. Photo by Jack Fisher. Te Papa


Images of Safua Akeli Amaama

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