In 2017 you viewed 200,000 of our Collections Online objects. We take a look at the top 10 most popular, of which 60% relate to Pacific culture.
1. O le tusi fa’alupega o Samoa
Our most viewed object of 2017 is the book O le tusi fa’alupega o Samoa, published in 1915, which includes key chiefly titles from Upolu, Savai’i, Apolima and Manono. This knowledge is usually acquired over time by matai (chief) and are recalled and acknowledged in speeches during special ceremonies and events.
This book represents an important collection and moment in Samoa’s history, where indigenous Samoans collated the oratorical recollection of titles in written form. This was the first of its kind, as previous publications of fa’alupega were published through the work of foreigners.This edition was published in 1981.
We suspect that users hope to be able to download the text of the fa’alupega of Samoa, as there are few online sources for this information. It highlights peoples interest in the history of their villages, family names, and chiefly titles. If you do want to read the full contents of the book contact us to book an appointment.
2. Thakambau’s Canoe – Levuka, Fiji
In the late 1800s, Thakambau (correct spelling Cakabau) was a leading Fijian chief. This is probably his drua, a double hulled sailing canoe used for inter-island voyaging.
This particular photograph by the Burton Brothers appeared in a Reddit post about vessels used for early Pacific voyages.
3. Casket or workbox
This box is an exceptional example of traditional Elizabethan black work reinterpreted in the 1920s by a very skilled, disabled soldier (or soldiers) as a royal gift to Queen Mary (1867–1953). The organisation which presented the gift, The Disabled Soldiers Embroidery Industry, was a favourite charity of the Queen who took a great deal of interest in it and often visited those involved.
This box was the subject of a presentation by Dr Joseph McBrinn (Ulster University) at the Myriad Faces of War symposium held at Te Papa in April 2017.
4. ’ulafala (pandanus key necklace)
This type of necklace is called an ‘ulafala. It is most often worn by Samoan tulafale (orator chiefs) and is made from segments of the pandanus fruit.
This ’ulafala was given to an unspecified Governor General of New Zealand between 1960 and 1990, and left in the attic in Government House, Wellington, until given to the Te Papa.
5. Pisupo lua afe (Corned beef 2000) by Michel Tuffery
Pisupo lua afe (Corned Beef 2000) is a popular sculpture on Collections Online every year. It’s made from flattened corned beef tins that have been joined together with dozens of rivets. It was first exhibited in the landmark exhibition Bottled Ocean, curated by Jim Vivieaere at City Gallery, Wellington, in 1994.
6. Hiapo (tapa cloth)
This hiapo is a form of decorated barkcloth from Niue. Little is known of pre-19th-century forms of Niuean cloth, but we do know that in the 1830s Samoan methods of making barkcloth were introduced to Niue by Samoan missionaries. Consequently, the patterns and motifs on Niuean hiapo from mid-19th-century often resemble Samoan pieces of the same period.
7. ‘The Empire Needs Men!’ poster
The imagery and text of this British First World War poster indicates a parent-child relationship between Britain and members of its empire. Australia, Canada, India, and New Zealand are the ‘Young Lions’ helping Britain, the ‘Old Lion’.
A large supply of this poster was printed by the New Zealand government and distributed throughout the country to encourage recruiting.
8. Ngatu launima (tapa cloth)
This ngatu launima is associated with Queen Salote of Tonga.
Ngatu is Tongan barkcloth, and the term launima indicates the length of the piece (50 langanga). In Tonga, girls from an early age learn to make ngatu from the bark of the paper mulberry tree. Other natural resources are used as dyes and glue, and the cloth is beaten with mallets made from the dense wood of the casuarina tree.
9. Hei tiki (pendant in human form)
Hei tiki are the most culturally iconic and highly prized of Māori adornments. They are usually made from pounamu (‘greenstone’) and were worn as symbols of status.
Hei tiki were treasured, especially because of their ancestral connections, and Māori women sometimes wore hei tiki as talismans of fertility in order to conceive and have a safe childbirth.
10. Fossil Iguanodon tooth
This small, unassuming object is one of Te Papa’s most valuable treasures – a fossil dinosaur tooth with a worn crown. It’s the first fossil ever to be recognised as dinosaur and its discovery marked the beginning of dinosaur studies.