Media Release: August, 2011. 

Oceania brings together two of New Zealand’s major arts institutions

Oceania, a collaborative exhibition project of visual art, culture and history from across the Pacific region, is soon to open at City Gallery Wellington and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa on August 6 2011.

Oceania: Imagining the Pacific will be housed throughout City Gallery Wellington’s entire gallery space, and Oceania: Early Encounters will be exhibited in Te Papa’s Visa Platinum Gallery. Paula Savage, Director of City Gallery Wellington comments, “Imagining the Pacific builds on the fascinating collection of objects and taonga presented in Early Encounters. Although City Gallery’s show focuses on contemporary art, visitors will recognise many repeated motifs and materials from Te Papa’s exhibition—Pacific deities, stitiched tivaevae, symbols of exploration and visual markers of place.”

Complementing City Gallery Wellington’s Imagining the Pacific, Te Papa’s Early Encounters introduces visitors to the two-way conversation between European migrants and the Pacific peoples who met them. “Oceania: Early Encounters will bring Pacific and European stories alive, not just for overseas visitors but also for New Zealanders. This adds another chapter to the history of New Zealand, one that can be shared by everyone”, say Michael Houlihan, Chief Executive and Michelle Hippolite, Kaihautu at Te Papa.

In both institutions visitors will follow the spirit of Pacific migration through works such as Ralph Hotere’s masterpiece, Black Phoenix, to an elaborate feathered cloak worn by English women in the mid to late 1800s. These cloaks were inspired by those worn by Hawai’ian King Kamehaha II and Queen Kamamalu on a trip to London in 1824. A cloak similar to the one worn by the Hawai’ian royal couple, which started the fashion trend, will also be on display at Te Papa.

Oceania is a key Wellington event in the REAL New Zealand Festival which runs September 9 to October 23 2011.

Media enquiries

City Gallery Wellington

Thomasin Sleigh


ph: 04 801 4258, 021 534 071

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Phil McGrath


ph: 04 381 7083, 029 601 0180