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Pacific peoples picked up cricket from British colonial settlers and quickly developed their own versions of the game. Indigenous forms of cricket are now played by Pacific communities across the world.
Not all cricket in the Pacific is formal and played in cricket whites. Sometimes a spontaneous game is a surprise highlight of the week. This image by acclaimed New Zealand photographer Brian Brake features people in Boroko, Papua New Guinea playing street cricket with tin cans for wickets.
Brian Brake, Papua New Guinea street cricket. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau, 2001. Te Papa (CT.049706)
To play kilikiti (Samoan cricket), you need a pate (bat), a hard rubber ball, and some olo (wickets). The pate can be over a metre long and is swung from the shoulder. This pate once belonged to a team from the Congregational Christian Church of Tokelau, Pahina o Tokelau, based in Porirua New Zealand. It is made from wood of the puka tree that was imported from Tokelau.
Pate (bat), 1990s. Maker unknown. Purchased 1997 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (FE010678)
In kilikiti (Samoan cricket), olo (wickets) can comprise a group of sticks or even a chilly bin (portable food cooler). This set of olo belonged to a team from the Congregational Christian Church of Tokelau, Pahina o Tokelau, based in Porirua New Zealand. It is made from sticks of gagie wood from Tokelau.
Olo (wickets), 1996. Maker unknown. Purchased 1997 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (FE010677)
In this mural, artist Michel Tuffery has depicted a batsman and bowler playing kilikiti (Samoan cricket). Can you spot them?
Michel Tuffery, Mana Pasifika mural commissioned for the Te Papa exhibition Mana Pasifika: Celebrating Pacific Cultures (1998–2007), 1996. Te Papa (FE011243)
This pate (bat) was presented to New Zealander, Walter James Crowther, the captain of the Avele cricket team in Samoa in 1936.
Samoan visitors to Te Papa have recognised the names of people written on the bat – each signature rendered in a different hand; and former students are proud Avele school is represented in the Museum’s collection. This signed pate reminds us that cricket is not just about runs on the board, it is also about people, places and the relationships formed through the game.
The bat is autographed with the following names: Avele Cricket Team, 1935–1936: 1. Aiatu, 2. Luia’i, 3. Taua’ivale, 4. Ta’ape, 5. Alenepi, 6. Suaesi, 7. Iakopo, 8. Iosefa, 9. Sione, 10. Talau, 11. Iosefa, 12. Viliamu, 13. Peleseuma, 14. Pauono, 15. Faulalogatä, 16. Eti.
Pate (bat), 1936. Maker unknown. Gift of A J Crowther, 1983. Te Papa (FE007823)
The Avele School cricket team in Samoa, winners of the 1926 school competition. Tua (Back row): Neli, Iosefa, Masiki, Fiti, Mautu, Sere, Ta'aga; totonu (middle row): Puipui, Mr Wild, P W Williams, Vailepa; luma (front row): Pouono, Pose
Avele School cricket team, Apia, Samoa, 1926. Photograph by Alfred James Tattersall. Gift of Barbara Williams, 1986. Te Papa (O.039485)
Kilikiti (Samoan cricket) became popular after English missionaries introduced cricket in the 1800s. Matches could go on for days and provided great fun, but were also a disruption to village life. This pate (bat) made of wood, has a circular handle bound with sennit (plaited coconut husk fibre). It was presented by Leulumoega-fou, London Missionary Society High School, to Viscount Galway (Governor General of New Zealand between 1935–41) when he visited Samoa in 1939.
Pate (bat). Date and maker unknown. Gift of the Right Honourable the Lady Rowley, 1980. Te Papa (FE007854)
A group of men and women arranged on a large set of steps at Puia Metua's house at Tupapa in the Cook Islands. In the foreground is a set of cricket stumps.
Cricketing party, Cook Islands, 1909. Photograph by George Crummer. Te Papa (B.028276)