Mapping the Sāmoa Collection

This project aims to enhance museum catalogue records and develop digital maps to contextualise taonga; enhancing their visibility and improving associated biographies, which then allows communities to utilise and share these resources, as well as support museum collections and knowledge.

Project Team: Dr Safua Akeli Amaama, Dr Sean Mallon, Rachel Yates, Kirsty Cox, Adrian Kingston, Gareth Watkins, and Alexander Gordon

Partners: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Hawai’i

Funding: United States Embassy Public Diplomacy Grants Program

Project Description: In 1930, whilst working for the Bishop Museum, Māori academic Te Rangi Hiroa (Sir Peter Buck) published the ethnological book Samoan Material Culture based on collections and fieldwork in Sāmoa in the 1920s. The connection and sustained collaboration between Te Papa and the Bishop museum is an opportunity to better understand the scope of the collections, oral histories, and indigenous knowledge systems which feature in this work.

This current project will focus on three key areas: digital repatriation, ethnographic analysis, and community engagement in relation to the collections.

Primary Outputs:

  • Enhance museum catalogue records as a best practice approach

  • Develop digital mapping to augment information access for the public

  • Enhance taonga and object visibility and associated biographies

  • Enable communities to utilize the resources to access, share and support museum collections and knowledge.

Sir Apirana Ngata (left) and Sir Peter Buck (right) on an ethnology expedition. Photo by James McDonald, 1923. Te Papa (MU000523/006/0005)