Talofa Lava!

Sunday 29th May – Saturday 4th June 2022 is Vaiaso o le Gagana Samoa, Samoa Language Week.
To celebrate we will share Samoan items from our collections, light up the museum in red, white and blue, and share videos to teach you simple words and phrases in Samoan.

Leone Samu Tui

Associate Curator, Documentary Heritage (Pacific)

Leone Samu Tui

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!  

<i>Viriola samoana</i>

A Holotype from Samoa

Viriola samoana

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.

Long reads

Significant salutations

Significant salutations

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.  

Read more

O le Manumea: Samoa's Little Dodo Bird

O le Manumea: Samoa's Little Dodo Bird

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. 

Read More Here

Olivia Taouma (Poutasi, Faleasiu, Sapapali’i)

Teu Le Vā Manager

Olivia Taouma (Poutasi, Faleasiu, Sapapali’i)

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.

Image credit: Raymond Sagapolutele
Ruby Satele

Collection Manager, Pacific

Ruby Satele

My family roots are traced to Samoa and American Samoa, in the villages of Lalovi, Vaito’omuli, Saipipi and Vailoa.

My role as a Collection Manager, Pacific is to care for the Pacific treasures held in Tāmaki Paenga Hira, alongside a group of amazing wāhines. One of the things I enjoy about the role is learning about the different tala or stories that many objects hold, especially when these are told by the knowledge-holders from our Pasifika communities. These are very special and inspiring to me.

Some of my favourite treasures in the Pacific collection are the beautiful neck ornaments from across the Pacific region. The ingenuity of the makers is reflected in the wide array of designs, materials and techniques. The production and wearing of neck ornaments continues today and it’s nice to see how these have evolved over the course of time.

A Samoan term or concept that I try to live by and self-improve on each day is fa’aaloalo. In simple terms it is respect, but it carries a lot of cultural significance because it is the fundamental principle for all things Samoan. The expression of fa’aaloalo includes discipline, grace and politeness. The same treatment should be given to the care of museum objects, and to our relationship with our colleagues, communities and guests. The act itself is wholesome and enriching and it is one of those things that I hope to be consistent in and get better at wherever I may be.

Zoom Talanoa - Measina Samoa: O le Selu

For 2020's online celebrations, Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland War Memorial Museum 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.

Can you say "hello" in Samoan?

Watch the video below to learn some simple Samoan phrases you can use this week

Lighting up the Museum

From Sunday 29 May we will light up the Museum for a week in the colours of the Samoan flag of red, white and blue.

O Le Sulu Samoa – (The Torch)

O Le Sulu Samoa – (The Torch)

One of the Samoan measina held in the collections of Tamaki Paenga Hira’s research library is the mission magazine ‘O le Sulu Samoa’, published to highlight London Missionary Society activities and community news. Beginning in 1839, this magazine continues to be published today by the Ekalesia Fa’apotopotoga Kerisiano Samoa (the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa). The considerable run provides a rich resource for researchers, and a compelling narrative of Samoa’s historical journey.

A little background
On August 24, 1830, John Williams, a minister with the Congregationalist London Missionary Society, landed at Sapapali’i village along the coast of Savaii, in search of Malietoa Vaiinupo, a paramount chief of Samoa. Upon meeting Malietoa at a large gathering in Sapapali'i, the LMS mission was accepted and grew rapidly throughout the Samoan Islands. The Church established itself at Maluapapa (now known as Malua), twenty kilometres west of Apia. Maluapapa quickly became the centre of Congregationalist activity for the Pacific, particularly after the establishment of Malua Theological College in 1844 by the Reverends George Turner and Charles Hardie.

By 1839 the Mission had started publishing ‘O le Sulu Samoa’ on their printing press at Malua. This printing press had been established with the express aim of publishing material in Samoan to aid the spread of the Gospel and conversion of the Samoan community to the Christianity of the Congregational Church. Over the many years of publication, a wide range of material was translated into Samoan and published in the Sulu Samoa, including the stories of ‘Tusitala’ or Robert Louis Stevenson.

A few libraries across Australia and New Zealand have issues of ‘O le Sulu Samoa’, but no library has a complete run of the 106 years of publication. Tamaki Paenga Hira holds a run of issues from 1902 to 1919 and then a few issues donated by the Reverend Robert Challis, the beloved senior minister of the Pacific Island Congregational Church in Auckland, from the early 1950s.

By the 1900s, in the issues held at Tamaki Paenga Hira, each magazine includes local community news alongside news of events in the wider Pacific area. Births, deaths and marriages in colonial families are noted; families such as Ah Sue, Armstrong, Betham, Carruthers, Churchward, Conradt, Gladding, Hannemann, Harman, Holzhauzen, Krüger, Laban, Nelson, Patterson, Rasmussen, Riedel, Roberts, Schmidt, Skelton, Tattersall, Traub, von Tyszka, Wendt and Wuelfingen.

Samoan objects from our collections

Header image: detail from kava strainer, Samoa. AWMM. 4130.