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Forgotten Taonga Māori in Russia
Sunday 14 March, 4pm - 5pm
“We should treasure the fact…that these treasures…should have survived and have been kept and treasured in that remote place. ” – Sir Tipene O’Regan
Remarkable Māori artefacts in Russian museums in Saint Petersburg and Kazan have survived the chaos and destruction of WW1, the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War 1918-1920, the bombings and Siege of Leningrad during WW2, the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. These unique artefacts were brought to Russia by Russian explorers from an expedition to the South Seas in 1819-1821 under the command of Faddej Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev.
At the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries the Russian Empire possessed the third most powerful fleet in the world, exceeded in the number of vessels only by the fleets of Great Britain and France. The Russian Emperor Alexander I (ruled 1801-1825), Catherine the Great’s grandson, actively supported explorations by Russia in the Pacific. Between 1803 and 1818 Russia sent no fewer than seven expeditions to the Pacific.
In 1819 a further expedition left St. Petersburg under the command of Bellingshausen on the Vostok (“East”) and Lazarev on the Mirnyi (“Peaceful”). The purpose of this expedition was to research the Southern Polar region further southwards than Captain Cook and it was on this voyage that the taonga Māori now in St. Petersburg and Kazan were collected. The fascinating story of their expedition and the taonga they gathered is the subject of our talk that is based on the research of Dr Olga Suvorova “Forgotten Taonga Māori in Russia: The 1820 Visit of the Bellingshausen-Lazarev Expedition to Queen Charlotte Sound” (Te Kaharoa, 15(1) 2020).
Our speaker Dr Olga Suvorova is a Wellington-based linguist, translator and cultural historian. She has a PhD in Cultural Studies (2007) and a Specialist’s Degree (Magna Cum Laude, 2003) in Linguistics, Teaching and Translation/Interpreting (English, French, Russian) in the field of Intercultural Communication from Lomonosov Moscow State University.
Feature image: Detail from: Russian Expedition in Queen Charlotte Sound, 1820. By Pavel Mikhailov. Image provided and reproduced courtesy of Dr Olga Suvorova.
Member $20, Student $22, Non-member $25 (incl. 20% discount voucher for Espresso cafe, Level 4 and free parking.)