To celebrate Vagahau Niue: Niue Language Week (6-13 October 2012), the Pacific Cultures team are highligting stories about Niue focusing on taoga (treasures) from Te Papa’s collection.
In 1972, over a few months, a group of scientists from Te Papa, then known as the Dominion Museum, made a visit to Niue as part of an expedition to survey the natural environment. Included in the group was Curator of Birds, Frederich-Carl Kinsky who took images of vaka (canoe) making at Lalokafika on the Alofi–Hakupu road. Some images capture the cutting down and shaping of the moota tree (Dysoxylum forsteri) by local Niueans including Piavale and Dr Harry Nemaia, who was formerly Director of Health in Niue and a respected vaka maker. These images are now in the Photography Collection and are available through Collections Online.
On the same trip, zoologist John Yaldwyn collected several kato (basket) from the local market. The kato range in style from kato tupe (money purses) to oval ribbed styles for storage. Along with cultural items, specimens of birds, fishes and plants were also collected. These images and objects are a reminder of the museum’s relationship with Niue, and provide an important time capsule in the country’s history.