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New database to help maintain Pacific heritage arts

New database to help maintain Pacific heritage arts

Creative New Zealand will develop a database of knowledge-holders over the next three months as part of a special project to help preserve and pass on Pacific heritage arts.

It has contracted Auckland-based Vagahau Niue Trust to identify, record and map the knowledge-holders of Pacific heritage arts in New Zealand across the major Island groups.

“Heritage arts are a fundamental way for Pasifika people to express the values, perspectives and attitudes that make their communities unique,” says Creative New Zealand Arts Council Pacific representative Caren Rangi.

“Part of our role as New Zealand’s arts development agency includes valuing, supporting and developing Pacific arts, which is underpinned by Pacific heritage arts. This project will allow us to support the preservation and development of Pacific heritage arts so they are not lost.”

Knowledge-holders of Pacific heritage arts may include individual community-recognised elders, tufuga, Pulotu, ta’unga, master craftspeople and cultural leaders.

“Once we know who and where the knowledge-holders are, we can explore the means through which they pass on their particular heritage arts practices to younger generations, for example in fono or in appropriate community-based arts projects.”
Pacific heritage arts are artistic activities that continue to be taught and learned from one generation to the next. As examples, the range of heritage arts practices across Pacific Island groups (e.g. Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu) can include the following, each with its own particular unique tradition:

Heritage material arts: siapo / tapa making, weaving, costume making, carving, ie toga (fine mats), tīvaevae / tifaifai, tattoo
Heritage performing arts: dance (e.g. siva, ura, takalo), singing (e.g. pese, imene, lologo tapu), music-making (e.g. rutu pa’u, fasi lologo), satirical play-acting, comedy (fale aitu)
Heritage language-based arts: oratory skills, genealogy

By November 2014 Creative New Zealand will have a database of knowledge-holders who can then be engaged in special projects and initiatives through which they can pass their heritage arts on to younger generations.


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