Aloha, Fakatalofa atu, Fakaalofa lahi atu, Kia orana, Ko na mauri, Si'oto'ofa, Malo ni, Ni sa bula vinaka, Talofa lava, Welcome.

This guide helps explain the care Auckland Museum takes with requests to use images which depict Pacific subjects and content. Our approach is based on Pacific Island nations’ cultural values and Auckland Museum’s guiding principles and values, and is in line with the Museum’s commitment to nurture relationships as outlined in Teu Le Vā: the Pacific Dimension at Auckland Museum.

You’ll find guidance on how to request these images together with an outline of our decision-making process and what you as a requester can expect.

This approach is intended to ensure Pacific Island cultural values are upheld while also supporting people to access and use Pacific images.

The Museum considers what is being depicted in each image requested. In particular, the subject’s status is considered. A Pacific Island item housed in or under the care of Auckland Museum attracts this level of care if it:

  • Represents Pacific people, both known and unidentified
  • Was directly associated with a known Pacific ancestor; and/or
  • Carries an ancestral name; and/or
  • Is considered of ancestral or spiritual importance to the Pacific descent group From where it originated; and/or
  • Continues to carry ancestral value*


* For example, religious effigies relating to religions no longer being practised (particularly relevant to Hawai'i and Tonga), or unprovenanced material by a Pacific person or having a Pacific context.

NB: Kiribati and Tuvalu adornments, especially belts, made of hair of a female relative are worn to uphold the mana of that relative. Similarly the necklaces made of ancestors’ teeth are worn to keep the ancestor with the wearer. These are not considered to be publicly sensitive.


Our approach for decision-making is based on the following framework:


We aim to increase access to and engagement with the Museum’s collections and stories through our image library. We take a positive approach by starting from an affirmative position i.e. assuming access will be provided unless there is a clear reason why approval should not be given. The exception to this is images which are known to be restricted for cultural reasons.

We seek to ensure that the requested images fit with the intended purpose and also ensure cultural obligations are not compromised.

Respect and Integrity

This is about upholding the Museum’s obligations to our source communities, whether the relationships are active or latent. It involves showing respect to people, items, subjects, key events, spiritual beliefs and to requesters. The rights of requesters who whakapapa to the island nation the image is related to will be taken into consideration.

Integrity is about supporting communities to divest themselves of colonial views and interpretation of people, events and material culture.


This supports the ethical sharing of indigenous world views and knowledge and guides us in our obligations to our source communities. The Museum has a responsibility to uphold the mana of the communities that are associated with Pacific images.


Under Kaitiakitanga, a high level of care is given to all Pacific images. Images that are considered to be sensitive include but may not be limited to:

  • Culturally inappropriate or denigrating uses, such as gender inappropriateness, or potentially offensive uses of images relating to the spiritual realm, prominent people or ancestors. Particular care will be taken with faces of known prominent personages.
  • Provocative use relating to known cultural or behavioural norms
  • Portraits, both known and unidentified
  • Images of people who have passed away
  • Stereotypical, exploitative, racially demeaning or offensive images, those with known inaccuracies and culturally inappropriate and offensive names, titles or captions
  • Potentially provocative uses of images, such as fringe religion or alternative art


A peer-review process is undertaken if there is any question over an image request, or if a request is complex.



Image (right): Collins, TW (1940s). Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-2013-47-B967-06.

Requesting an image

We use Teu Le Vā: the Pacific Dimension at Auckland Museum to inform decision-making and start by seeking the following information:

  • Details of the image or object
  • What the image will be used for
  • Any Pacific Island nation affiliations of the requester


Our image order team will:

  • Work through the approvals process based on the principles outlined above
  • Advise on any rights the requester might need to seek
  • Aim to provide a response within one week of receiving the full information on the request
  • Maintain a record of the request and decision
  • Maintain privacy of all requests unless the requester’s prior written permission has been given


To begin an image-order enquiry, please use our contact form.


We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Museum of Sāmoa; Bougainville Heritage Foundation; the Musée de Tahiti et des Îles — Te Fare Manaha; the State Library of QueenslandNgā Taonga Film and Sound Archives New ZealandAuckland LibrariesHocken LibraryRotorua Museum, and the Alexander Turnbull Library in developing these guidelines and welcome feedback which will improve this service.

These guidelines are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. This license allows reuse, sharing and commercial use for any purpose, provided that the Museum is attributed.


Download a printable version of this guide



Image (right): Niue Hiapo. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. AM30088.