In the Sāmoa Collections at Te Papa there are at least 60 measina that once belonged to soldiers who served in Sāmoa in World War One. They give us insight into the lives of Sāmoans and New Zealanders at the time, as well as the ways that the relationships between the two countries have changed over more than 100 years.
Using the correct Sāmoan words is important: it’s a way of giving mana to the original creators and users of the taonga in our collection. As part of the ongoing Mapping the Sāmoa Collections project, Alexander Gordon has been tasked with making a glossary of Sāmoan vocabulary to document how words have changed over time. This will ensure that we are using the correct words to identify objects and make it much easier to search our catalogue.
Our Mapping the Sāmoa Collections project is a collaboration between Te Papa and the Bishop Museum in Hawai‘i and aims to enhance museum catalogue records and develop digital maps to contextualise taonga; enhancing their visibility and improving associated biographies, which then allows communities to utilise and share these resources, as well as support museum collections and knowledge. Research Assistant Alexander Gordon reflects on his first forays into the project.