18 Dec 2017

NZ's Auckland museum appoints new senior Pacific role

6:37 pm on 18 December 2017

New Zealand's Auckland War Memorial Museum wants to boost the number of Pacific people visiting its historical artefacts, through the establishment of a new senior management role to nurture relations with Pacific communities.

Olivia Taouma is the first Teu le vā or 'nurture the relationship' manager and the position is seen as key for the museum's Pacific Dimension plan, which aims to attract more people of Pacific heritage to visit and explore their own history, culture and traditions.

Teu le vā manager at Auckland museum, Olivia Taouma

Teu le vā manager at Auckland museum, Olivia Taouma Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood

The museum also wants to reflect Auckland's contemporary Pacific culture, as the city is home to one of the largest Pacific populations in the world.

"It is quite exciting to be coming into an institution that is not just honouring Pacific, but is actually putting to action their words of reflecting the Pacific Dimension plan," she said.

Auckland museum's collection of Pacific artefacts is regarded as world-class and covers cultures including those from West Papua, Hawaii and Rapa Nui.

The Director of Maori Projects and Development Linnae Pohatu said the new role would help widen the museum's reach.

Director of Māori Projects and Development, Auckland Museum, Linnae Pohatu

Director of Māori Projects and Development, Auckland Museum, Linnae Pohatu Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood

"Her role is to help us give capacity and lift to our teu le vā aspirations and teu le vā is the Pacific dimension for the museum.

"We have a long colonial history, but with that comes an aspiration to welcome in and to make Pacific communities feel a part of this museum," she said.

The chair of the museum's Pacific advisory group Sandra Kailahi said the appointment was timely.

Chair of Pacific Advisory Group for the Auckland Museum, Sandra Kailahi

Chair of Pacific Advisory Group for the Auckland Museum, Sandra Kailahi Photo: RNZ Pacific / Sela Jane Hopgood

"This move signals the museum's intention and priority of teu le vā relationship for Pasifika people.

"The Pacific Collection Access project, where they are categorising all of the taonga [Māori meaning highly prized object] that they have from generations ago, shows that the museum is moving forward. Olivia's new role is an addition to that priority," she said.

In 2016, Pacific communities have taken turns to showcase their country's items such as tools, ornaments and carvings through the Pacific Collection Access project.

Cook Islands, Easter Island and Fiji have show cased their cultures, and French Polynesia will see out the rest of 2017 at the Auckland museum.

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