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Header image: detail from kava strainer, Samoa. AWMM. 4130.
From Sunday 28 May – Saturday 3 June, we will be lighting the Museum in the colours of the Samoan flag.
O meatotino fa‘asolopito a aiga o se vaega o lo tatou talafa‘asolopito. E maua mai ai lagona o lo tatou fa‘asinomaga ma iloa ai tatou ma le mea na tatou o mai ai. O meatotino fa‘asolopito e mafai ona aofia ai ata, tusi e teu ai ata, tusi, ma pepa tāua.
O le taulimaina ma le teuina o fa‘aputuga o meatotino a o tatou aiga e fai lea ma ala o le umi ona malu puipuia ai. O nei ta‘iala o le a fesoasoani iā te oe mo le fa‘asaoina o meatotino fa‘asolopito a lou aiga mo augā tupulaga o le lumana‘i.
Family archives are part of our history. We draw a sense of identity from knowing who we are and where we’ve come from. Archives may include photographs, albums, letters, and important documents. Handling and storage of our family collections directly impacts how long they last. These guidelines will help you preserve your family archives for future generations.
ACCESS THE TOOLKIT
The insect life of Samoa is relatively understudied, but we do know that the butterflies (pepe) and moths (pepe lelefua) of Samoa are diverse, with some unique to the region.
For Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa, Samoa Language Week, Melissa Kirk (R T Shannon Assistant Curator of Entomology) takes a closer look at some specimens in our collection.
Malo le soifua, my name is Mevia and I’m the newest member of the Teu Le Vā team. I am a second-generation New Zealand born Samoan raised in Ponsonby, Auckland Central. I hail from the villages of Auala and Asau in Savai’i, as well as the villages of Alamagoto, Lefaga, Sataoa and Vaiala in Upolu and Lautoka, Fiji. I'm currently doing postgraduate studies in Museums & Cultural Heritage.
As a daughter of the Moana, I’m inspired by the late Epeli Hau’ofa’s outlook on Oceania, that we should not be defined by the smallness of our islands but by the greatness of our oceans.
A particular measina that is on display in Tāmaki Herenga Waka that resonates with me deeply is the PIC choir gown of choir mistress Epi Phethean. It is a true testament to the diaspora that had to learn to embrace a new language, culture and way of life here in Aotearoa New Zealand. A journey made by many across our great oceans to establish a new life.
The first PIC church on Edinburgh Street in Newton was like a social hub that connected all from across the Moana. A haven for Pacific Island immigrant families in their new adopted home, just like my own Lealiifano aiga (family) and a plethora of other Pacific Island families. I’m in awe of how vast our Pacific communities are and how far our village spans. The lifelong connections that were formed through choir, church and various other church activities, that are now memories fondly embraced today and a rich history that I am proud of.
Thank you to Sefa Enari and ‘aiga for the loan of their Great Aunt Epi Phethean’s choir gown, on display at Auckland Museum in the Tāmaki Herenga Waka Stories of Auckland galleries.
Talofa lava, my name is Pamata Diaz Toleafoa from the motu of Samoa. I was born in Hastings and raised in Mangere, South Auckland. I come from the villages of Salelesi and Satapuala and currently reside in Mangere.
I am a proud former student of Mangere College and the University of Auckland. I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts conjoint with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) with first-class honours. I recently submitted my master’s in fine arts. My research topic examined measina as living entities.
I am passionate about Samoan measina and constantly exploring new ways to re-energize how we ‘look at, ‘look into’ and understand our treasures beyond their visual aesthetics. I explore measina using readily available materials to reflect the diasporic influences and reveal the opportunities presented to me. I draw on the oral histories, narratives, and experiences gifted by my elders, and manifests this through creating my measina.
I serve as a Senior Librarian Pasifika Research under Auckland Libraries.
As one of the Youth Representatives within the Pacific Advisory Group (PAG), I am fortunate to provide my cultural knowledge and creative experience to enhance the conversations around the trajectory of our measina. Being a youth voice for PAG means I can inform and be informed about how we can better connect and serve our treasures.
Celebration of Samoan Language Week
Samoan language week celebrates our ways of knowing and our ways of being. It recognizes the shared culture, values, and beliefs that ground and affirm our place in the wider society. It acknowledges our shared heritage and embraces what it means to be 'Samoan.' Therefore, encapsulated in the Samoan language is an exploration of one's identity, something that is worthy of celebration.
Growing up in South Auckland, I was fortunate to be surrounded by elders, teachers, and knowledge holders who constantly spoke in Samoan. I attended Mangere College, a high school that offered the Samoan language as a subject. Here, I was privileged to get both practical and theoretical insight into the execution of the Samoan language and cultural practices. I am also part of the Onehunga Co-operating Parish (Samoan congregation), with Samoan as the prime communication language. These experiences are a constant reminder of how significant and vast the Samoan language is and how deeply ingrained fa'asamoa is in my everyday life.
During my studies at the University of Auckland, I explored Samoan terminologies in my creative practice. Concepts in Samoan are filled with multiple and complex meanings, many of which are difficult to express in English. I got the opportunity to examine concepts that influence my creative making and discuss the various implications embedded in them. These were reflected in my measina and the material that I used. Such experiences reflect the beauty of the Samoan language and how it is a major driving force in my creative process.
Like many other Pacific languages, I see the Samoan language as a life journey simply because the language in itself is intricate and profound, making the learning stages different for many peoples. Mastering the speaking abilities and understanding capabilities in this modern era comes with complexities, especially with the increase in technology with English at the focal point. For this reason, the celebration of Samoan language week is vital in providing an avenue for Samoan people to connect and reconnect, re-energize, and re-vitalize our unique ways of knowing and being.
Measina - Lave
My favourite measina is the lave. The lave is part of the structure that form the Tuiga (Samoan crown). The lave (like many measina) has undergone profound changes that reflect the opportunities or influences present in each era. The lave is the most adorned part of the Tuiga and it usually draws the audience's attention at first glance. The lave projects towards the sky, signalling a profound connection between the heavens and that of the earthly realm, making this measina special.
Measina in order of appearance:
Poupou le lotoifale. Ola manuia le anofale.
Strengthen the posts of your house, for all to thrive.
Fa‘atalofa atu i le outou pa‘ia ma mamalu. O lo‘u igoa o Leone Samu Tui.
O nu‘u o lo‘u tamā o Faleula, Salelesi, ma Pu‘apu‘a. O nu‘u o lo‘u tinā o Malie, Lefaga, Vaiala, ma Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa.
Malo lava le soifua maua ma le lagi e mamā.
In my role as Associate Curator, Documentary Heritage (Pacific) I am committed to connecting Pacific communities with the Pacific collections I help care for at Auckland Museum Research Library. Documentary Heritage refers to taonga across the pictorial, manuscript, ephemera, and heritage publication collections. Another aspect of my role is to continue to collect items that reflect Pacific people's lived experiences in Auckland and in the wider Moana. Since January 2020 I have encountered a wide range of Samoan measina: from a handwritten retelling of the story of Vaea and Apa‘ula, to early 20th-century issues of O le Sulu Samoa newspaper, to an early compilation of Samoa’s Fa‘alupega. It is important to me to continue to increase my knowledge of what is in the collection and make it easier for communities to access all these measina through creating as many opportunities as possible to encounter them in person or online.
E sui faiga, ae tumau fa‘avae
Practices may change, but the foundation remains the same
The ‘polycultural capital’ (Mila, 2010) I bring with me into the museum workplace is grounded in my identity as a second-generation Aotearoa New Zealand-born Samoan woman with an extended ‘aiga dispersed across the globe that is still connected through the world wide web. While lacking fluency in Gagana Samoa, I have grown up in a worldview founded on values of the Fa‘asamoa, although in practice it might look a little different compared to previous generations.
Inspired by one of my cousins – and considering that several of us have begun to have our own little families – my Samu aiga have recently begun to have Gagana Samoa classes embedded into our family get-togethers and to‘ona‘i. These are conducted under the guidance (and patience!) of our aunty, Tuiloma Lina Samu. These sessions have been wonderful opportunities to teach and learn along intergenerational lines. I am learning alongside my cousins in our early- to mid-thirties, as well as with our own young children. We are 100% committed to learning, stumbling, and improving as a family unit together long-term, which in fact is reflected in the name and content of our family Facebook group chat: ‘Selau pasene i le oti’! This online forum is a digital extension of the safe space in which we have been able to post videos of us practising our pronunciation, ask our questions without fear of ridicule, and have a fun bonding experience together. I think our grandparents Tuiloma Mōlīpopo Samu (née Iusitini-Sio) and Leatufale Lila Samu would have been proud.
Ia manuia le Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa!
This week is a time for all our Samoan people in Aotearoa to celebrate and share our culture and language with everyone. O le manulauti lea ua fa'asalalau atu mo le Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa, "Tapena sou ōso mo lau malaga" (prepare yourself a gift for your travels).
The theme of the week urges us to prepare for everything we may need as we go on life’s journey. It highlights the need to respect and share the gifts of our life’s journey with others. Ōso (gifts) such as alofa (love) and tatalo (prayers) build, nurture and strengthen our relationships, with both aiga (family) and uo (friends).
We are excited to be working with our community online this year and sharing more about our Samoan measina and stories at Auckland Museum. I am particularly excited about our first Samoan zoom talanoa, on the wooden and tuāniu selu in our collection. This week we are respecting and sharing some of our museum’s Samoan measina to add to your life journeys and ours.
ʻSulu’ means ʻtorch’ or ‘light’ in Samoan. Published primarily in the Samoan language by the London Missionary Society from 1839, early issues of the Sulu are rare and difficult to access today with holdings largely held in archives outside Samoa.
In this blog, our guest contributors Litara Ieremia-Allan, Wanda Ieremia-Allan and Rev Dr Featunaʻi Liuaʻana reveal myriad ways the Sulu continues to shine its light, and the intellectual inheritance this measina (treasure) continues to bestow upon present and future generations.
For many Samoan families the Tuiga (ceremonial headdress) is an icon of tradition and a priceless family heirloom.
In this blog Talei Tu'inukuafe Collection Manager, Pacific examines the building blocks of Tuiga, and how they come together to form a distinct symbol of cultural and national identity.
The Manumea is the national bird of Samoa and is found nowhere else in the world. One of the closest living relatives of the extinct dodo, the scientific name for the species (Didunculus strigirostris) means little dodo.
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In this blog, Associate Curator, Documentary Heritage (Pacific) Leone Samu Tui and Seulupe Dr Falaniko Tominiko (Deputy Chair of Auckland Museum’s Pacific Advisory Group) reflect on the significance of a measina held in Auckland Museum’s manuscript collection: an unpublished tusi fa’alupega, or collection of Samoan chiefly titles and village salutations, compiled in 1902.
“Our history is written, not in books,
but in our mats”
When Queen Sālote made this revelatory statement1, she was speaking of kie hingoa or ‘named mats,’ the most important category of fine mats that exist within Tonga. Worn for specific occasions and handed down over many generations, these fine mats were given personal names and accrued detailed genealogies and histories over time.
In a similar fashion, the ‘ie toga (fine mats) that have historically been prized and fiercely coveted by the people of Samoa, are those that have significant stories and histories associated with them, or that have been connected with people or families of great renown. These qualities give the ‘ie toga immense mana that is recalled each time it is shown or worn.
History has indeed been written in this particular ‘ie toga (AWMM 1932.193, 17457) which was gifted to the museum in 1932. The donor, Major-General George Richardson had retired from the position of New Zealand Administrator of Western Samoa in 1928. As a parting gift he was presented with this ‘ie toga by the Fono of Faipule, a legislative body of 27 Samoan Faipule (district representatives) who each signed it. While the makers of the ‘ie toga are not yet known its significance and value are evident in the fineness of the weave and in the red sega feathers stitched along the border.
By 1928, New Zealand’s administration of Western Samoa had already been marred by multiple grievances and characterized by a poor understanding of Samoan culture and customs, and the continued misuse of legislation which undermined the traditional authority of matai (chiefs). Just one year after the gifting of this ‘ie toga, the most heinous incident of colonial brutality, Black Saturday (28 December 1929), would take place as New Zealand military police fired into a parade of Mau demonstrators in Apia, killing 11 Samoans including Mau leader Tupua Tamasese Lealofi III.2
This ‘ie toga represents a crucial moment in time; the Fono of Faipule had only been legally recognized by the New Zealand Administration five years earlier.3 These Faipule were perhaps unaware of the continued struggles they and the Samoan people would face but this ‘ie toga provides a glimpse into the fraught early histories that would shape the nation in decades to come. It speaks to the tautua of these Faipule, some of whom went on to directly take part in the Mau movement for independence. Their names, handwritten on this ‘ie toga, stand not only as a record, but as a marker and witness for how they used their voices to shape Samoan history.
1 Bain, The Friendly Islanders: A Story of Queen Salote and Her People, 77.
2 ''Black Saturday' in Samoa', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/black-saturday-nz-police-open-fire-on-mau-protestors-in-apia-nine-samoans-killed, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 23-Sep-2020.
3 'Colonial administration', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/samoa/colonial-administration, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 28-Jul-2014.
This specimen is called a Holotype – a specimen that is chosen as the standard for a species description. When a scientist wants to decide whether they have a new species or not, they need to look at related species first to determine the differences. They use a holotype – like this one – for this.
This tiny shell was dredged from Apolima Strait, west of Upolu Island, by crew on the H.M.N.Z.S. Lachlan, probably during survey work late in 1973. It was originally thought to be new to science, but it has since been discovered that it belongs to a species called Viriola abbotti, which was discovered as early as 1935.
The specimen is extremely pretty, but even more so because it was coated with a very thin layer of gold so that it could be imaged at very high magnification with a Scanning Electron Microscope. This was important to show the fine details of the very tip of the shell, which records the shells earliest stages of growth. Originally, the shell would have been white in colour.
There should be a unique holotype for each and every species on Earth, and with hundreds of thousands of species in the world, there are also hundreds of thousands of holotypes lodged in museum and university collections around the globe.
Auckland Museum cares for around 4,000 specimens such as this, and this is the only marine Holotype we have for Samoa. It was described by Walter Cernohorsky, Curator of Malacology at Auckland Museum 1968-1989.
O le Aritemetika; o le tusi lea e aoao ai i numela. 'Samoa Arithmetic' inscribed on the inside front cover. Published in 1843 by Mission Press, Samoa. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. QA101 ARI.
Malietoa. Letter to His Excellency Herbert Thompson 1891. Original written in Samoan with English translation. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. MS-189.
‘Solaua, a secret embryo’. Poems by Momoe Malietoa Von Reiche. 1979. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. PR6043.094 VON.
O le Feagaiga Fou a lo tatou alii o Iesu Keriso, ua liu i le upu Samoa. Auckland War Memorial Museum Library. BS335.S3 FEA.
Can you say "hello" in Samoan?
Watch the video below to learn some simple Samoan phrases you can use this week
Zoom Talanoa - Measina Samoa: O le Selu
For 2020's online celebrations, we held an online talanoa session through Zoom. The session was called "Measina Samoa: O Le Selu" and it highlighted a selection of selu (Samoan combs) from the Musem's Pacific collection.
We were joined by Galumalemana Steven Percival (Tiapapata), Sister Vitolia Mo'a (Apia) and Seulupe Falaniko Tominiko (Apia, Aleisa, Lotofaga, Matatufu, Satitoa, Satapuala, Salailua, Safotu, Samauga, Falealupo and Pava'ia'i). Background information about each selu were shared by Ruby Satele. The panelists and participants engaged in an inspiring discussion that included exploring the origins of the selu, the production work and its role in the identity of tama'ita'i Samoa. Our heartfelt gratitude to our panelists for sharing their knowledge and expertise with us all.