Traditional Games 2022- Cook Islands

Journalist, Melina Etches, is covering the 2022 version of the Cook Islands Traditional Games and recently wrote an article about how the stage is set for Friday’s events in Rarotonga.

The revival of traditional games like rore (stilt) races and peipei tiporo (juggling with limes) were among the highlights of the 2020 Cook Islands Games. The Emo’anga Peu Tupuna or the Traditional Sports events are set to return in the 2022 Games which will get underway this Friday.

Over 10 teams representing each of the islands participating in the 2022 Games are expected to compete in the Kopapa Reo Māori (Cook Islands Maori Language Commission) Emo’anga Peu Tupuna this coming Saturday, October 1st at the Constitution Park, at 8.30am.

The five traditional sport events are: Rore (Stilts), Peipei Tiporo (juggling with limes), Amo Manga (carrying coconuts), Ko Akari (husking coconuts) and Rangaranga (kikau weaving).

There is only one event which will be judged – the “rangaranga” kikau weaving category. The other events are all races – first to cross the finish line wins.

The traditional games will be coordinated with the assistance of Tauranga Vananga (Ministry of Culture Development).

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Cook Islands traditional game of Rore (Stilts). Photo from websites.sportstg.com

Tauranga Vananga’s national identity director Ngatuaine Maui said all participants must be over 14 years of age, and the categories are for both men and women.

Each island shall be responsible for supplying materials needed for participating in these games, such as the rore, kikau and coconuts.

Teams need to take note that a person can participate in two events only and each event must be from different categories.  “You cannot participate in more than two events, and you cannot join in two events in the same category,” said Maui.

For Rore, the height of the rore from the foot stand to the ground shall be two feet, the remaining height of the stilts shall be to the length of the shoulders of the person using the stilts.

Participants will race in three rore categories,

Taemoemo Rore for the open men and women’s is a race to the finish of about 50 metres. Depending on numbers, two heats will be run – the Northern group islands teams in Heat 1 and the Southern group islands in Heat 2. The top two finishers in each heat will compete in the finals.

Tipi Rore (combating) category is for the men only. Two competitors will fight with the rore and the person left standing on their rore will be crowned the winner of that combat. The winner of each combat progresses and the loser is knocked out.

Rore Tatakitai (single rore) is for the open men and women section. In this competition, all participants are required to stand on both rore and when the second whistle is blown one stilt is removed – the last person left on their stilts is the winner.

In the Peipei Tiporo/Poroiti, the junior men and women aged 14 to 16 years (one boy and one girl from each island) juggle two limes using one hand.

In the Amo Manga which is open for men only, each person carries six bundled coconuts tied to each end of a stick, a total of 12 coconuts. The participant is required to carry the bundles for 50 metres then pass on to the next runner (relay), the first team with all six runners across the line wins the race.

The Ko Akari, the popular coconut husking event, will feature three men and three women in a team. The fastest team to complete husking 12 coconuts wins the event. The first person up will run 50 metres to where the coconut is stationed and husk it completely then race back to their team where the next person will continue in a relay fashion.

In rangaranga (kikau weaving) competition, a male and a female from the participating teams will compete in each of the four categories – Rango kere (food basket), Apuka (fishing basket), Tapakau and a Pare Ukarau (kikau hat).

Meanwhile the Cook Islands Games bowling event is scheduled to start today at the Rarotonga Bowling greens in Tutakimoa. The Games will officially begin on Friday with the opening ceremony.

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Improving Use of Language Through Radio Stations

Two radio stations linked to the French Pacific’s decolonization movements want to co-operate to lift the use of indigenous languages.

The heads of Radio Tefana in French Polynesia and Radio Djiido in New Caledonia said this is in line with the United Nations declaring the next 10 years as the decade of vernacular languages.

Tahiti Nui TV said a member of Radio Djiido, Kengy Wiwale-Hauata, said New Caledonia has 30 local languages and they are all honored on the radio every day.

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The two stations plan to expand cooperation in the region, considering partnerships with Wallis and Futuna, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji.

The two stations were set up in the 1980s when the pro-independence movements were led by Oscar Temaru and Jean-Marie Tjibaou respectively, and both broadcast on the frequency 97.4FM.

Radio Tefana is threatened with closure because of a $US1 million fine given three years ago when Temaru was handed a suspended prison sentence over the station’s funding arrangement.

The conviction has been appealed but a hearing of the case has been deferred for a fifth time until next year.

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A Muckbang Feast to Celebrate Tongan Language Week

Last week was Tongan Language Week in New Zealand and I thought it would be kind of fun to share a Youtube post about a muckbang feast that was used to celebrate the week.

Central to all Pacific Island celebrations, is faith, family and food.

This year in celebration of Uike Kātoanga’i ‘o e lea faka-Tonga – Tongan Language Week, Pacific Media Network’s Agnes Tupou is joined by KaiNow founder and food lover Robb Nai in a mukbang-style mini Tongan feast.

A muckbang, also known as “muek-bang,” is the term that originated from two Korean words meaning “eating” (meokneun) and “broadcast” (bangsong). So combined, mukbang describes an “eating broadcast.”

The popularity of mukbang started in South Korea in 2011. Today, hundreds and thousands of people continue to tune in to watch so-called “broadcast jockeys.” The jockey, or host, binge eats large quantities of food in front of a live stream.

KaiNow is an online Facebook group where members discuss and share their love of food, usually in the form of a live broadcast of themselves enjoying or cooking a meal. The group was created in 2018 by Nai, and has amassed a large community of food lovers from all over Aotearoa and the world.

Watch Tupou and Nai indulge in a hearty Tongan spread, with a side of banter in their mother tongue:

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Empowering Tongan Youth During Tongan Language Week

Last week was Tongan Language Week in New Zealand and schools and community groups organized events throughout the country. Radio New Zealand Pacific Journalist, Finau Fonua captured the week with an article.

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According to Statistics New Zealand, there are more than 82,000 people of Tongan heritage living in New Zealand, and there are concerns about younger generations of Kiwi-Tongans losing their mother tongue.

“A lot of our kids unfortunately don’t grow up in households where Tongan is spoken as a first language, and this is one of the goals of language week is to encourage our young people to learn about our language, to learn about our culture”, said Jenny Salesa, a Labour MP of Tongan heritage.

“The majority of our Tongan people here in Aotearoa now, are born and raised here. I think over 60 or 70 per cent.”

Salesa, who helps organise the annual event, said she has heard during her public consultations that many young Kiwi-Tongans complain of an identity crisis, and said language weeks are a temporary relief for many young Pasifika who feel culturally marginalised.

“Some of them say they would just like to be acknowledged as a Tongan and not just during language weeks where we encourage and acknowledge Tongan in their school. They would like their identity and their language to be acknowledged throughout the whole year and not just within one week.”

The theme for this year’s Tongan Language Week is Ke Tu’uloa ‘a e lea faka-Tonga ‘i Aotearoa or “Sustaining the Tonga Language in Aotearoa”.

It’s unpoetic compared to highly metaphorical themes in previous years, but the message reflects the primary purpose behind the event.

“Sadly, only 12 percent of Tongans under 15 speak the language in New Zealand. That’s a decline of 9 percent since 2006,” said the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, who officially launched the week at Otahuhu College, Auckland.

“Language week is the ideal time to revitalize lea fakatonga, and embrace our Tongan brothers and sister culture, values and traditions,” he said.

Annual Pasifika language weeks have been in place in New Zealand since 2010, and have been promoted aggressively by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

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‘Speaking the language of your heritage strengthens self confidence’

Singing and dancing have been key components of Tongan Language Week. Traditional Tongan dances have been performed by Tongan and non-Tongan students in school assemblies throughout the country.

Otahuhu College Tongan language teacher, Tina Otunuku, said traditional dances were performed by students at their school assembly on Tuesday. She said the cultural performances brings out the “Mafana” or warmth of spirit.

“The highlight of the day was a performance from disabled and special needs children, and they did well. All the students joined in. We didn’t expect that to happened, it was incredible”, said Otunuku.

“Maintaining your lea fakatonga (Tongan) or Pacific language here in Aotearoa, helps you to value your culture and heritage which contributes to a positive self conscious. Knowing how to speak the language of your heritage, strengthens your self confidence.”

Otunuku said a common mistake made by immigrant parents in New Zealand was to discourage their immigrant children from speaking their native tongue in the belief it would improve their schooling.

“When students who are not yet fluent in English, switch to using English only, they are functioning at an intellectual level below their age. In this manner, it is likely to result in academic failure and this is what happens to a lot of Tongan students here.”

“You know students who learn English and continue to develop their mother tongue, have higher economic achievement in later years, than students who learn English at the expense of their native language.”

Tongan princess launching learning app

As part of the week, a Tongan language learning app is being launched at parliament in Wellington on Saturday by Tongan Princess Angelika Lātūfuipeka.

Wellington Tongan Leaders Council President Taetuna’ula Tuinukuafe said the app is dedicated to teaching the Tongan language which will be made accessible worldwide.

Tuinukuafe said that while the app is intended for Tongan children who live overseas, it can be used by anyone who has an interest in learning the Tongan language.

“Our young people who are growing up here are not connected to our community and our culture. For the Tongan statistics more than half or 53 percent or so that are born here in New Zealand and they need to understand and learn the language and communicate with their fanau.”

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“Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas” Gets New Printing

Have you ever wonder what it would be like to leave your home and country and travel to the South Seas, search for the perfect isolated island, and write your great novel?

Well, wonder no more as Publish Authority has recently republished the book, Mr. Moonlight and the South Seas, written by Brandon Oswald, which tells this story.

Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas is a biography style non-fiction book that captures the adventurous life of American author Robert Dean Frisbie who lived in the South Seas from 1920 to his death in 1948. Although he is part of a long line of South Seas writers that began with the likes of Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson, Frisbie did what very few of these writers did- he stayed in the Pacific for the rest of his life. He first arrived in Tahiti, French Polynesia, where he met his long-time friend and author, James Norman Hall and the two remain friends for the rest of their lives. After about four years in Tahiti, Frisbie left for the tiny atoll of Pukapuka, Cook Islands, where he hoped that the isolated island would suit his needs to become a great writer. As the only white man on the island, Frisbie would marry, have children and live a life completely different from those of his American contemporaries. His writings would put Pukapuka on the map and his adventures would become the stuff of Pacific Islands’ lore.

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Journalist and author Eric Watkins, wrote a compelling review of Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas:

“…In an essay devoted to the works of Robert Dean Frisbie, literary scholar Natasha Potocnik laments this neglect and notes that “his work has not been given sufficient critical attention despite its artistic merit, and for this very reason it is important to introduce this author and his literary work to the wider public.”

That is precisely where Brandon Oswald enters with his own study of Frisbie, called Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas.

An archivist by profession and founder of the Island Culture Archival Support, Oswald holds Robert Dean Frisbie in unabashed esteem. Describing Frisbie as “part of a long line of South Seas writers that began with Herman Melville and Robert Louis Stevenson,” Oswald says Frisbie stood apart from those writers by doing what few of them could do: “After going to the Pacific, he stayed there for the rest of his life.”

As Oswald describes it, Frisbie’s life in the Pacific – from his arrival in 1920 to his death in 1948 – was anything but idyllic due, not least, to the chronic penury of a writer who probably received more rejection slips than paychecks. Still, Frisbie never gave up on his love of the South Seas or his dream of writing the one great novel that would seal his reputation, just as Moby Dick had sealed Melville’s…”

The new printing of Mr. Moonlight of the South Seas can be found at:

Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and the Publish Authority Website.

Also, check out author Brandon Oswald’s Website

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A Man of Culture and Tradition in Fiji

A few months ago journalist, PEKAI KOTOISUVA, wrote an article for The Fiji Times that I’ve been meaning to share and post. The article is about seventy-eight-year-old Atunaisa Macanavere who is known by his family and the people who have met him along the way as a man of honour, culture and tradition.

Originally from Korokoli Village in Vaturova, Cakaudrove, Macanavere while growing up he had taken the initiative to learn the iTaukei culture, its customs and traditions by accompanying his late father Marisilino Naceba to soqo (functions) within the village and villages nearby. “I learnt at a very young age,” he said. “I would always observe what my father did and how he did things and that’s how I caught on very fast.”

Macanavere is neither a shy individual nor a stranger when it comes to presenting yaqona at ceremonies.

“I started presenting the sevusevu when I was in class eight at Napuka Primary School,” he reminisces.“I was given the duty to receive all the priests who came from overseas to Napuka, and then present on behalf of the school.” Macanavere said learning iTaukei customs was not compulsory for young boys during his time.

“Once we’d grow a bit older then we’d be required to learn the customs and traditions, this was because there were older people to handle these areas.

“I, however, took it upon myself to learn at a young age and was given great opportunities.”

Because he was driven to learn at such a young age, the 78-year-old was chosen to be the matanivanua (representative of the chief) during his time as a student at Saint John’s College at Cawaci on Ovalau.

“I was given this responsibility when I was in Form 5 in 1962. My duty was to be present on behalf of Father Foliaki, a Tongan priest, and receive guests who visited the school.

“I remember after the ceremony, during the visitation of the Marist priest, the head of the Marist society of priests congratulated me and asked if he could take me to Belgium to study and become a priest. But I had told him it wasn’t a good time.”

Not only has Matanavere been a leader for his family, he’s also shown great leadership skills towards his village.

During the installation of the Tui Vaturova, Macanavere was given the responsibility of presenting the tabua to the Tui Vaturova on behalf of his mataqali. “I went on behalf of the mataqali because the head of the mataqali was of old age; it was a great experience, one that I am proud of.”

Matanavere said change was happening every day and that it’s important for boys and men to know their customs, culture and traditions and, in addition, learn their dialect.

“I always tell the young people in the village, especially my grandchildren, that they must speak in the Cakaudrove dialect because they are from Korokoli.”

He believes that all these are important aspects in life as it carries and identifies a person of iTaukei heritage.

“In the village, I teach the young men what should be done and how it’s done and whenever there’s a soqo, I tell them to present the sevusevu.”

Macanavere encourages young men to pay attention when going to soqo and make an effort to learn and educate themselves about their culture, customs and traditions.

Atunaisa Macanavere with wife Adi Aseri Kulamailagi. Picture: SUPPLIED

Early years

Macanavere’s late father Maraisilino Naceba and his siblings were brought up by their uncle (mother’s brother) after the passing away of their father and the remarrying of their mother Seini Sovatabua.

“My father and his siblings were looked after by their uncle in his village Vatukuca from their young age right till they were able to live independently.

“They then moved to their mataqali land Vuinadi in 1941 and were later brought to their village Korokoli by their uncle. It was there that they built their house.

“Actually, we started off with just one house in the village and that was my dad’s house, which is our family home today. After the building of their
house by Macanavere’s father and siblings, his father travelled to all seven mataqali to recruit members to build their houses in Korokoli Village.

“It was around the 1950s when my father brought members of nearby mataqali into our village.

“We did not have that much land, so they had to seek land from the Nakase mataqali which is where the Tui Vaturova is from.

“They were given about 200 acres of land, so two of my uncles had to go to the land that was given by the Nakase mataqali while my father and his eldest brother stayed at home in Korokoli.”

Today, Korokoli Village, a small island, houses seven homes, two of which belong to two of Matanavere’s sons, one which is their family home and the remaining five belong to other members of the village.

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Showing Samoa’s Archaeological Sites

Journalist, Fuimaono Lumepa Hald, recently wrote an interesting article for the Samoa Observer about how the use of technology to study potential prehistoric sites in Samoa has led to the collection of vast amounts of archaeological information, an archaeologist has revealed.

American research archaeologist Gregory Jackmond, who is currently attached to the National University of Samoa’s Center of Samoan Studies, told the Samoa Observer that the country is home to many prehistoric sites and artifacts that remained undiscovered until recently.

He said the discovery of these sites and ancient artefacts were made possible through the use of what is called Lidar [light detection and ranging] maps over the last 6 years. “We have been able to build a database that can be used by anyone who is interested, not just university students,” he said. “We continue to build on it and one of the magic tools is the Lidar maps.”

According to the American archaeologist, Lidar map data for Samoa that has been analysed shows that the islands of Samoa are covered with archaeological features from the coast to the inland, as they can be seen where deep forest canopy has been cleared (8 kilometres or more inland in some areas).

The features visible include platforms (for houses), star mounds, terraces, walls, walled walkways, elevated walkways, large earthen ovens (umu ele’ele or umu ti), drainage channels, large pits, forts and just piles of stone.

Umu ele’ele, according to the archaeologist, were large earth ovens which were used about 500 to 1000 years ago to make sugar from ti trees. “The ti root apparently was cooked for about 10 hours in a lot of heat. The result was sugar for the people at the time,” he said

“The earthen ovens were about 10 metres across to 2 metres tall. We have only excavated about a dozen of them. But when you look at the Lidar maps, you will find that there are hundreds all across Samoa.”

Mr Jackmond said the other features of the data collected from the Lidar map, which he said people might find interesting, are the star mounds.

When first discovered by archaeologists in Samoa in the 1970s, there were only about 50 of them. However, Mr. Jackmond said the Lidar map data has shown that there are over 300 located in Samoa.

“So far the purpose for the star mounds is not yet well known. We have not excavated enough to make a deduction, but I know that it may not have been used for pigeon snaring despite the claims by the American Samoans,” he said.

“Due to lack of funding we cannot find out more about some things, like star mounds for instance.”

Making reference to the recent discovery of the foaga (grindstones) Leicester Cook, who coincidentally was his former archaeology student, Mr. Jackmond said they were surprised to see so many in one place. “We were surprised to be shown so many foaga in one place as we have only discovered one or two in some places,” he said. “But Leicester’s find is significant because it led us to believe that these could be all over Samoa too and families do not know what they are or recognise their importance.”

The American archaeologist then made reference to a program that the senior N.U.S. lecturer Dionne Fonoti is currently working on. “We also want to entice the communities to call in with their information or stories about things like the foaga and other remnants of prehistoric times so that we can add their information to our database,” he said.

Expressing confidence in the growth of archaeology students and researchers in the country, Mr. Jackmond said there appears to be an awakening, in terms of interest in the specialised field.

“Before the curriculum in the schools never really talked about the prehistory of Samoa, but now one of the teachers Tia has 40 students or so in each of his two classes. And I am sure Muhammad the other one has the same amount.”

Mr. Jackmond said that the two teachers are both doing their masters degree in archaeology. “More and more students are majoring in archaeology and that is a good sign because if Polynesia started from here, then Samoa should be the center of archaeology for the region,” he added.

Mr. Jackmond was an American Peace Corps volunteer in Samoa from 1974–76 then he did archaeological work with Dr Jennings until 1979.

He recently returned to Samoa in 2016 after his retirement as a teacher in California in the States and wanted to do something meaningful and exciting, so he returned to Samoa to help develop the archaeology department at the Center of Samoan Studies.

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The True Value of Traditional Money in Solomon Islands

An interesting article was recently posted on the Solomon Times that I believe worth sharing about traditional shell money…

Solomon Islands shell money is the price some grooms still pay for love. But first they have to find the traditional currency.  Strings of seashells, coils of red feathers and dolphin teeth are traditional currencies that are used to say “I love you” in parts of Solomon Islands.

The shells play a significant role in traditional bride price ceremonies, which are used to mark when a woman leaves her family to settle with her husband.

But for Australian-based Solomon Islander Terry Wong, tracking down the shell money for his bride-to-be — my sister Azalea — was no easy feat.

For generations, strings of shells have been used to trade and settle disputes, long before cash was introduced.

Shell money is still used in provinces including Malaita, Makira and Guadalcanal and families often have a treasure box of the currency hidden in their homes.

Solomon Islands is home to a range of traditional currencies, and some are easier to find than others. Some provinces use large disc-shaped clam shells called “bakiha”, while others use dolphin teeth or red feather money. While the red feather money from Santa Cruz Islands in the eastern part of the country is no longer in use after the small scarlet honeyeater bird became difficult to find, dolphin teeth and shell money are still commonly used.

To create shell money, the seashells are broken, smoothed and collected in strings of 10 to form a “tafulia’e”. The different lengths of string have different value and a single tafulia’e can be worth anywhere between $100 and $500.

Solomon Islands shell money. Photo from

Dancing, music and shouting on the big day

On the day of the bride price ceremony, Terry and his family arrive at our home in Honiara in a convoy of vehicles to a chorus of tooting horns, laughter and shouting, and we welcome them with plenty of music and dancing.

It’s a big deal for Azalea’s loved ones, who have come out in large numbers to witness her bride price and farewell her with traditional dances.

Terry’s family bring items to pay the bride price: live pigs, bags of rice, root crops, traditional mats and a small black box of shell money — the most valuable item of all. “It was a hard time [finding the shell money] but we just endured it,” Terry said. “It’s for someone I love and also, as shown today, my family loves her too.”

Terry’s family is from the province of Temotu in the eastern part of the Solomons. It’s closer to Vanuatu and shell money isn’t part of their culture.

Terry’s grand uncle Solomon Palusi says finding the shell money was “very difficult but wasn’t impossible”. “We tried our very best to take the shell money.”

It’s for people like Terry that a shop has recently opened in Honiara’s Chinatown, selling shell money for cash, targeting three of the nine provinces in the country that use the traditional currency.

Why is shell money so hard to find?

Shell money shop owner Mary Sifoburi is from Langa Langa in Malaita province, a community known for crafting the currency. “Basically, the process of making shell money involves 10 steps before the product comes to completion,” Mary said.

The shells are smoothened and ground flat before a small drill is used to create a hole in the centre of the shell, and a tuna tin is used as a makeshift scale to weigh them. “In the past it would take two to three days because of the manual drill used. But now with the introduction of the new drill, a person can drill three to four tins [worth] per day,” Mary said.

The shells are placed on hot rocks to change colour before final grinding is done.

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Making shell money. Photo from medium.com

It’s not an easy task and it can take up to two weeks to find a single shell. “There are different kinds of shells involved in the process of shell money, so we have black shells, white shells and red shells,” Mary said.

The harder the shell is to find, the higher the value.

“For now, I can say that the value is based on the people who produce the shells but because right now … we do not have any standard regulations to guide the value of the shells, the prices vary,” she said.

Concerns currency will fall out of circulation

Father of the bride Steve Aumanu has noticed the monetary value of shell money shift over the decades but the cultural value has so far endured the test of time. “It’s being commercialised, the value of the shell is called by those who produce it and those who are price takers, we don’t have much choice,” he says.

With shell money now so difficult to find and its price increasing, community elders fear it will some day lose its place in the three provinces. “I don’t know whether it will cease to be recognised but for the time being, the value has been ascending,” Steve said.

Back at the bride price ceremony, the bride stands with her cousins on traditional mats called “kaufe”, which in the Malaitan custom recognises her leaving her family home with dignity and pride.

An honouring ceremony of Azalea’s closest aunties and grand aunties also takes place where the groom’s side hands over monetary gifts in red envelopes that reflect Terry’s father’s Chinese heritage.

The moment of truth

The most anticipated part of the ceremony comes when the bride’s father either accepts or declines the bride price from the groom’s side — there have been instances where it has been rejected.

But not this time around.

During the ceremony, more than 20 tafulia’e are given to the bride’s father by the groom’s father.

“Traditionally when there’s a marriage ceremony between two people, that’s a significant event in the life of a family or tribe and this one is no different,” Steve said. “When we are all together to witness, it’s a manifestation of a great valuable cultural undertaking.”

And on the occasion of my sister’s bride price ceremony, the enduring value of the shell money and the traditions that come with it, are clear.

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ICAS Returns to Pacific with Maps Project in Fiji

Great news! After a two year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Island Culture Archival Support (ICAS) was enthusiastically back in the Pacific Islands in early July proudly working on a project at the National Archives of Fiji (NAF) with generous funding and support provided by the International Council on Archives Fund for the International Development of Archives (FIDA).

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Processing maps at the National Archives of Fiji. Photo by ICAS.

The project dealt with taking physical and intellectual control of an extensive map collection that had been neglected for decades. Maps are, perhaps, as fundamental to society as language and the written word. They have been an important part of human history that stems back past 8000 years, and were created and used as an essential tool to help people define, explain, and navigate their way through the world. Additionally, maps were and still are a preeminent means of recording and communicating information about the location and spatial characteristics of the natural world and of society and culture.

Today, millions of maps are created and used throughout the world by cartographers,researchers, scientists, scholars, tourists, students, governments and businesses to meet environmental, economic, political and social needs. They can be used as general reference to show landforms, political boundaries, water bodies and the position of villages, towns and cities. Maps can act as a guide in places that a person has never before visited.

Incidentally, the appropriate staff members at NAF who were involved with the project treated the project as a workshop on handling oversize material. This was the best kind of workshop as staff not only received hands-on training in regards to handling, preserving and processing large material, but they also worked towards a goal of preserving and processing a collection that had been back-logged, ignored and forgotten. Thus, this workshop group consisted of six staff members of NAF, who spend most of their normal day working with collections, two staff members from the Ministry of Itaukei Affairs, and two volunteers from the United States (one of which included myself).

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Preserving and Processing maps at the National Archives of Fiji. Photo by ICAS.

Overall, the project/workshop was a complete success. We were anticipating that the project would take several months and were hoping to finish it by the end of the year. However, we were able to complete the majority of the work after about seven days. Our strict appraisal practices and policies helped us from the start and lighten the burden of records that we had to deal with.

Additionally, the participant’s determination, diligence and enthusiasm towards the project proved to be a very valuable asset in the quick completion of each of the different phases. It can be extremely difficult for staff members in the Pacific region to attend any kind of formal archival training. Thus, it was nice to see the participants take advantage of a hands-on training or workshop opportunity that comes along to them. There was a sense of pride when working on their own map collection. Now, the longevity of these records has been increased, as well as the access to these records has been made a easier. If other oversize material or collections get deposited to the Archives, the staff now will have the skills to deal with the records.

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Placing maps in there new home during the maps project at the National Archives of Fiji. Photo by ICAS.

My most sincere thanks goes to Collin Yabaki and the Ministry of Education for their support of the project; the Interim Chief Archivist, Jim Balenaivalu, and the staff at the National Archives of Fiji: Salanieta Rakarawa, Makelesi Rokoleka, Jennifer Voka, Onisimo Volau, Kemueli Raiqeu, Penioni Kauvure- your hard work and camaraderie made the project a complete success; Taito Raione and Taniela Nayasi Soqo of the Ministry of Itaukei Affairs; International Council on Archives Fund for the International Development of Archives (FIDA); volunteer, Devin Oswald; and CEO Jasper Chou of East Lion Enterprises for the valuable help in shipping supplies to Fiji.

Vinaka vaka levu!

To read the full project report please click here.

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“Art is Everything We Do,” Cook Islands

The Cook Islands News recently posted and article about how Pacific artists of Samoan origin Fatu Feu’u returned to an exhibition in the Cook Islands accompanied by contemporaries and fellow Samoans, Andy Leleisi’uao and Raymond Sagapolutele with a new series of work including paintings, prints and photography at the Bergman Gallery.

The exhibition Fa’atasi which opened last month and ran until August 6 acknowledged the anniversary of Feu’u’s Cook Islands residency.

Cook Islander Dr Tearikivao (Kiki) Maoate, the president of the Pasifika Medical Association, and Bergman Gallery director Ben Bergman were the keynote speakers at the exhibition’s opening.

Bergman said the exhibition was an engaging commentary. 

“Set against the backdrop of disruption that has defined the past two years, Leleisi’uao’s six-part series ‘Uslands’ explores his enduring all-inclusive portrait of an alternative utopia while Sagapolutele’s photographs confront systemic racism and cultural evolution within a Pacific/urban context.

Feu’u’s large scale painting Fa’atasi anchors the exhibition, his legacy, mana and spirit of learning together woven into the remarkable free hanging canvas.”

Born in 1946, Feu’u emigrated to New Zealand in 1966, and over the years he has built a well-recognised career as a painter, printmaker and sculptor and is regarded as the godfather of Pacific Contemporary art.

His practice fuses traditional Pacific and Samoan imagery with European modernism, explains Bergman. His regular use of the frangipani flower motif is a trademark and a powerful metaphor for Feu’u’s unification of two visual cultures.

“Stylistically he is influenced by New Zealand artists Tony Fomison, Phillip Clairmont, Alan Maddox and Colin McCahon of whom he had early associations. Samoan patterns, design, legend, traditional language and biblical text also serve as familiar motif within this artists large body of work.”

Feu’u was the Creative New Zealand artist in Residence to Rarotonga in 2002. Co-hosted by the Cook Islands Ministry of Cultural Development, Feu’u’s residency resulted in multiple workshops and exhibitions involving many Cook Islands artists.

“His bright, expressive paintings, vivacious personality and professional public relations skills ignited the developing Rarotongan art community, lending a fresh sense of confidence and resolve,” Bergman shared.

“Over the course of his career, Feu’u has gained regional institutional recognition, his work can be found in Te Papa Tongarewa, The Museum of New Zealand, Wellington; The Auckland Art Gallery – Toi O Tamaki, Auckland and the National Gallery, Brisbane, Australia.”

Explaining his passion, Feu’u said: “To me, art is not just about painting or sculpting. Art is part of everything we do, whether it’s building a house, or the way we talk to our family and friends, something we do with respect.”

Leleisi’uaois a significant Pacific artist living and working in Auckland, New Zealand. Over the past 20 years Leleisi’uao’s style has morphed from highly volatile, expressive paintings and sculpture into sophisticated stories reflecting the artist’s inner space. 

Through his more recent work, Leleisi’uao has created alternative universes, emergent societies populated by strange creatures that are free of traditional human prejudice. It is a genesis point, a veritable human reset button.

“The artists influence range is enormous, he draws from ancient and modern history, literary history, art history, pop culture history, world headlines, personal experiences, he rarely leaves a stone unturned. He tells the story of what we can be as a species, regardless of our cultural stature, religious convictions, skin colour or sexual orientation.”

Sagapolutele is an Aotearoa-born Samoan artist with family ties to the villages of Fatuvalu in Savai’i and Saluafata in Upolu, Samoa. He picked up the camera in 2003 and began a self- taught photography journey that would see him work with editorial publications Back to Basics and Rip It Up as a staff photographer as well as submissions to the NZ Herald and Metro Magazine.

Sagapolutele completed his Masters in Visual Arts in 2019, with first-class honours and received the Deans Award for Excellence in Postgraduate study from the Auckland University of Technology (AUT).

Bergman says: “For the artist, the camera has become a vital part of his ability to explore his heritage as a diasporic Samoan with cultural ties that link him to the history of the Pacific and the land within that vast ocean. The camera is how his visual language is given a voice, the method that forms his oratory and connects to the Samoan tradition of Fagogo (storytelling).”

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