18 Jul 2012

Calls for overseas museums to return Pacific Island artefacts

4:39 am on 18 July 2012

Overseas museums are being called on to return all Pacific Island artefacts to enable the cultural economies of their countries of origin to grow.

The call, from the head of the organising committee for the recently finished Festival of Pacific Arts, follows an inaugural Oceanic art sale earlier this year by the United States auction house Bonhams.

A rare, centuries old Cook Islands akatara or pole club sold for more than 146 thousand dollars, almost 50 thousand dollars above its estimated sale price.

Doreen Kuper says getting the Pacific's treasures back from musuems will be costly.

"But I'm for myself looking at the kindness of these people in those museums and how they would see how we feel about it and maybe they would just pay for it themselves and return them to us. Hopefully."

Doreen Kuper says having the artefacts returned is central to both Pacific Island countries' tourism industries and the spiritual health of their people.