Pacific arts

The National Gallery of Australia houses one of the finest collections of Polynesian art within Australia. The collection consists of objects from Fiji, Tonga and Rapa Nui (Easter Island), and a number of world-class pieces from Aotearoa New Zealand, the Marquesas Islands and the Cook Islands.

Currently on display is a singularly magnificent work in the collection, the Pou-tokomanawa ancestor figure which was once the base of the main supporting post of a Maori meeting house. It is believed to have been created by the most famous 19th century master carver Raharuhi Rukupo of Manutuke.  Another stunning piece on display in the gallery is the mid-ninteeth century Lei niho palaoa, a marine ivory and braided human hair necklace worn only by the elite classes of Hawai’i.

Also on display are a selection of Maori hei tiki pendants and a very rare seat in the form of a canoe, most likely from Takuu, a Polynesian Outlier north of the Solomon Islands.