The Pacific: Culture, History and Geography

A DigitalNZ Story by National Library of New Zealand Topics

This set of resources looks at the extraordinary area known as the Pacific, its sea of islands, environment and peoples from early exploration to colonialism and 21st century issues like global warming. SCIS no: 1978045

social_sciences, arts, english, health, Māori, technology, history

Topics

Hot vents

Hot vents, or smokers on the Pacific ocean floor, are environments that give clues to the origins of life on Earth.

Life near a hot vent

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

George Spafford Richardson

This patronising photograph shows New Zealander George Spafford Richardson who was Samoan governor from 1923 to 1928.

Portrait of General George Spafford Richardson with Samoan children

Alexander Turnbull Library

Pacific rat

The Pacific Rat travelled with people and colonised every Pacific island, with devastating results for flora and fauna.

The Pacific rat

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Cook Islands soldiers

WW1 Cook Islands soldiers were known for their stamina. At El Arish, 30 islanders did the work of 170 British troops.

Landing supplies at El Arish, Egypt

Alexander Turnbull Library

Animals crossing the Pacific

Earth's rotation creates a magnetic field that birds and marine animals use to navigate across the vast Pacific Ocean.

Earth’s magnetic field

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Pacific sugar

Sugarcane has become a lucrative crop to grow in Fiji.

Barges transporting sugar cane, Rewa River, Nausori, Fiji

Alexander Turnbull Library

Nonu, Weepu and Kaino

There is a strong international demand for Polynesian players of tough football codes like rugby and rugby league.

Webb, Murray, 1947- :[Nonu, Weepu, Kaino] 20 October 2011

Alexander Turnbull Library

South Pacific Forum, 1971

Today climate change is a top priority for all of the Pacific island nations covered by the South Pacific Forum.

South Pacific Forum, August 5, 1971, Wellington

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

The Frigate bird

Important to navigators, the frigate bird symbolises freedom and power. Its image is often seen in Pacific art.

Te utuao

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Moa oil

This artwork by Pasifika artist Michael Tuffery highlights the environment and questions the ongoing use of oil.

"Moa Oil e Lily"

Puke Ariki

The Coconut palm

The coconut has huge cultural significance across the Pacific. All parts of the coconut palm are used in everyday life.

Rito (Coconut leaf fibre)

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The Pacific Ocean food chain

Plankton, microscopic organisms, form the basis of the Pacific Ocean food chain & are essential for a healthy ecosystem.

Some common foraminifera

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

The Leger brothers

The Tongan Leger brothers came to New Zealand to enlist for WW1 service in 1915. They served in France and Palestine.

Leger Brothers

Manatū Taonga, the Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Kava

People of the Pacific have used kava as a ceremonial drink for centuries.

'Ava (Kava root)

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Cyclone Val

With its 240 km/h winds and 15 metre waves Cyclone Val swept across Samoa in December 1991.

WESTERN SAMOA: Damage to house from Cyclone Val

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Sea cucumbers

Gathering and selling sea cucumbers was a profitable trade in Fiji and other Pacific islands in the 1800s.

Australasian Brown Sea Cucumber

iNaturalist NZ — Mātaki Taiao

Pacific hurricanes

Hurricanes draw warm air from the ocean. Their winds and storm surge can cause devastation across Pacific nations.

Vao

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira

Cook Islands

DigitalNZ

Kiribati

DigitalNZ

Tokelau

DigitalNZ

Tonga

DigitalNZ

Niue

DigitalNZ

Tuvalu

DigitalNZ

Samoa

DigitalNZ

Fiji

DigitalNZ