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Curator Talk: Co-Curating the Pacific

Tuesday 29 January 2019, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

$10.00 – $15.00

At this session we’ll hear from 2 of Te Papa’s curators about new collaborative methods of acquiring items for the national collection and curating communities histories. Sean Mallon will give us an overview on a few projects the Pacific Cultures team have been undertaking and Claire Regnault will take us on a deep dive into collecting aloha shirts from Hawai’i.

Sean Mallon, Senior Curator Pacific Cultures

Small Things Matter: Experiments in co-collecting with Sean Mallon, Senior Curator Pacific Cultures

Since 2016, the Pacific cultures team at Te Papa have been exploring new ways to engage Pacific communities to co-curate collections that better represent themselves for future generations of New Zealanders. From contemporary artists in Guam to the legacy of the German-Samoa Colonial period, to Tongan youth in South Auckland, and the prospect of living with climate change in Tokelau, this series of projects has been both challenging and rewarding. It has transformed the Pacific Cultures team’s approach to their curatorial work and enriched the collections in unexpected ways. This talk profiles some of the people, stories and objects that have brought life to this exciting strand of Te Papa’s collection development work.

He Makana Aloha: co-collecting memory, legacy and indigenous identity through the iconic aloha shirt with Claire Regnault, Senior Curator NZ Culture & History

Claire Regnault, Senior Curator NZ Culture & History

Perhaps no other textile is more closely identified with Hawai’i than the proverbial aloha shirt. It is the cautionary tale of how the simple “palaka”, a Hawaiianization of the 19th century English term “frock”, worn in cane fields and at backyard parties, transformed from being a deeply local expression of identity to a global phenomenon. Yet its story is not over; during the last century, aloha wear has gone from (mis)appropriation to reclamation; from kitchy tourist shop to hip street wear and New York Fashion week.  In October 2017 Claire Regnault, Sonya Withers, Te Papa’s first Tautai Contemporary Pacific Arts Trust intern, and Noelle Kahanu, a Native Hawaiian writer/artist/curator/scholar, came together to amass some 80+ aloha shirts for Te Papa’s collection that speak to the enduring and evolving nature of the aloha shirt, and its impact across the Pacific and beyond. Rather than creating a survey collection, the project exemplifies how individuals from various viewpoints came together across cultural and geographical expanses to form an in-depth expression of the complicated but beloved aloha shirt as an embodiment of individual and collective indigenous identity.


Curator Talks are designed to share deep knowledge and expertise from 1 or 2 curators presenting on a specialised subject fitting with the museums programme.

Includes free parking


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Tuesday 29 January 2019
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
$10.00 – $15.00
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Reading Room, Mezzanine, L4, Te Papa
Te Papa, 55 Cable Street
Wellington, 6011 New Zealand
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Friends of Te Papa
(04) 381 7051