Te Vainui O Pasifika

Now Showing

Te Pasifika exhibition space
Te Pasifika exhibition
Source: Musuem Victoria

Te Vainui O Pasifika includes watercraft objects from nearly every country in the Pacific.

Developed in partnership with Pacific Islanders living in Melbourne, its many features include a Solomon Islands war canoe and three large sails painted in traditional and contemporary designs by Pacific Island artists.

Museum Victoria's Pacific Island Advisory Group supplied the name of the exhibition as well as many hours of their time advising on the many aspects of its content.

The soaring walls of the East Superspace provide the majestic ambience for the sails flying above the canoes, thenselves floating below on a sea of subdued light. The sails, representing Micronesia, Melanesia and Polynesia, are of high artistic quality and celebrate the continuing heritage of Pacific Islands culture and art in Melbourne. Another major feature is a full-size Solomon Islands War Canoe.

Islanders comment on parts of their heritage in canoe construction and lore. Paddles at the ready transport the visitor down the ramp into the sea below. Bailers, canoe decorations, model canoes and a huge map of the Pacific complete the picture of the great ocean.


Event Type: Permanent Exhibition

Daily, Now Showing
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Te Pasifika Gallery

Included with museum entry.
Museum Members receive FREE museum entry.

Comments (10)

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Malia Johnson 10 May, 2015 05:58
Hi I've chosen to do an artwork review about this exhibit for a class assignment and so I have a few questions about the piece. - When was the exhibit opened/when was the piece made? - What are the artists names or was the piece meant to be a collaborative work? Thanks
Discovery Centre 10 May, 2015 13:48
Hi Malia, this exhibition opened when Melbourne Museum first opened in October 2000. The name refers to the exhibition as a whole, so there are a range of objects in the gallery of differing dates and makers. Are you referring to just one object such as the sails or the war canoe?  
Louise 14 March, 2015 14:22
Hello, can you please tell me what Te Vainui O Pasifika means?
Discovery Centre 5 April, 2015 16:20
Hi Louise, the title of the exhibition is not in a single language but was arrived at by members of the Pacific Islands Advisory Group (PIAG) who represented Melanesian, Polynesian and Micronesian communities living in Melbourne (and further afield, too). Together they arrived at a title that they were all happy with.

Regarding particular languages: The Pacific contains hundreds of languages and dialects. Papua New Guinea alone has something like 800 languages; Polynesia has variants within it (Tongan Maori, New Zealand Maori etc). The regional groupings include the following islands.

Melanesia : Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, West Papua, Fiji

Polynesia: Aotearoa New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu, Tokelau, Cook Islands, Hawaii, Society Islands, Austral Islands, Marquesas Islands, Tuamoto Archipelago, Mangareva, Easter Island.

Micronesia: Pelau, Mariana Island, Marshall island, Kiribati.

So this was a considerable task, but the PIAG ensured that everyone who participated agreed upon the title.

Louise 16 March, 2015 12:24
Thank you, can you tell me what language it comes from?
discoverycentre 14 March, 2015 15:55

Hi Louise,

The name Te Vainui O Pasifika means 'The Great Ocean'

Leuli Eshraghi 7 May, 2011 12:32
Please see the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies website below, they have recently released junior high school level history curricula that covers Oceanian civilisation histories from the last millenium to the 21st century, and most island groups, most certainly those of diasporas represented here in Australia. http://www.aaaps.edu.au/?q=node/135
Ive 6 April, 2011 12:49

Hi Laura, Below are a list of useful links that may assist you with your students. On another note, it may be worthwhile continuing to research on working with Pacific Island students, their families and their culture. There are many cultural obligations that need to be considered before making a comment that 'they are not taking their education seriously' as you've mentioned. Try having a discussion with all your Pacific Island students in a group setting, as well as with their parents..a bit of Professional development around 'Cultural understanding' wont go astray - All the best! Fa'afetai lava Resources: The Polynesian Voyaging Society website has a range of information and educational materials regarding traditional Polynesian navigation: http://www.pvs-hawaii.com/navigation.htm

Traditional Navigation in the Western Pacific, a website by the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, is a sequence of dynamic pages on the art and science of navigation. http://www.museum.upenn.edu/navigation/Intro.html

Let’s Go Voyaging Teacher’s Guide is a complete set of lessons in pdf format, focused on Hawai‘i and Polynesia, produced by the Moanalua Gardens Foundation and available on the web at http://www.mgf-hawaii.org/HTML/Resources/lets_go_voyaging.htm

A user-friendly Archaeology Lesson Plan with exercises is available at the Center for Archaeological Studies' Old Mobile Archaeology website: http://www.usouthal.edu/archaeology/lesson_plan.htm

Laura Henderson 24 March, 2011 19:36
Hi Aloha I am hoping you can help me with my teaching of 12-13 year olds. We are required to teach 'Ancient Civilisations' and I believe teaching some of Pacific Island ancient history may be beneficial to our growing number of Pacific Islander students as well as the rest of the cohort. We are finding that many of our Pacific Islander (Cook Islands, Samoan and Maori) are disengaged and are not taking their education seriously (not all of them of course). I thought that if we teach them about another Pacific Island group they may become more interested in my subject, at least. Would you be able to steer me in the right direction for lesson plans and ideas as well as any contacts who may wish to help? I am also trying to find someone locally who may get involved with them using music and/or rugby (both of which they seem passionate about). I look forward to hearing from you with some ideas. Thank you
Discovery Centre 31 March, 2011 15:58
Hi Laura, unfortunately we don't have any education programs specifically for this exhibition. But if you contact our Education Bookings team they may be able to help you out with information about the exhibition and some idea if there's anything further that you can do on a visit that might assist.
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