The Intern Files: Week 1, Taking the Plunge

By Melissa Beseda

On June 11th and June 12th, Te Papa hosted a Sāmoan Artist Exchange in celebration of Sāmoa’s 50 years of independence. Artists included weavers demonstrating ie toga (fine mat) techniques at the Weavers’ Studio area of our new exhibition Kahu Ora | Living Cloaks, tatau (tattoo) artists, master carvers, and makers of sennit – a type of woven cord used throughout the Pacific. Wasting no time, on the second day of my internship here at Te Papa and my third day in New Zealand, I put on the lavalava and Paul Junior Suluape designed and applied a tatau in the traditional Sāmoan style on my forearm. This involves using the ‘au, which is a comb that is dipped in the ink and carefully applied using a wooden mallet. Certainly it hurt a bit but how could I have passed up such a unique opportunity? The result is a beautiful tatau, reminiscent of a bird in fight, which Paul applied without the help of a stencil, demonstrating his expertise and artistry.

Paul Junior Suluape applying the tatau to Melissa Beseda’s forearm.

Here I am on Day 3, my forearm healing and my intern project taking shape. This is with Digital Projects where I will be developing visitor engagement via Te Papa’s free wifi and evaluating SMS engagement, as well as other digital projects. I am here from Seattle, where I am enrolled in a Master’s program in Museology at the University of Washington. I am incredibly fortunate to have this internship opportunity and am ready for all of the diverse and wonderful experiences that Te Papa has to offer, both personally and professionally. One thing is for certain: my time here at Te Papa will certainly leave a mark in more ways than one.

Paul Junior Suluape and Melissa Beseda posing for a picture with the newly completed tatau.

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