The collection: Pacific Islands
The Pacific collection contains items from many different island groups.
This collection numbers approximately 2000 items from Australia, New Zealand and many of the Pacific island groups such as Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Solomon Islands, Hawaii, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti and Easter Island.
Significant items include a Tahitian mourner’s costume, which was acquired on the 2nd Breadfruit Voyage by Lt. Francis Godolphin Bond, who served on the HMS Providence in 1792. There are also items that relate to the voyages of Captains Cook and Vancouver. An early piece of Cook Island bark cloth is likely to be 18th century in date.
Other important maritime journeys include that of the cruiser HMS Mildura to Vanuatu in 1897, which was commanded by Henry Leah. Also, the Melanesian mission ship to the Solomon Islands, Southern Cross, in 1912.
Contemporary material that reflect the traditions, even changes, of modern day island culture include several dance crests from Uvol, New Britain, which were made in 1987 for a community festival that is held every 25 years and commemorates generational change.
Genealogy was made by artist Rosanna Raymond in 2007 and highlights how barkcloth is relevant to Polynesian islanders today. These bark-patched trousers relate to the artist’s ideas about her own mixed heritage. Rosanna refers to Genealogy as taonga, a Maori term given to items that are considered treasure.