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The Pacific Arts Association XII International Symposium will take place in March 2016 in the vibrant city of Tamaki Makaurau Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand. Spread across four days and multiple venues for a lively cultural exchange and debate. Your hosts Auckland Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira in partnership with Ngati Whatua o Orakei, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board and The University of Auckland invite you to participate.


Ma te ahuatanga o mua
E arataki te huarahi
Hei haere whakamua.
By the lessons of the past
We are guided into the future.

The overarching theme of the Pacific Arts Association XII International Symposium, as expressed in this Maori whakatauki, proverb, is we look to the past to inform the way we move into the future. It acknowledges those who came before and the lessons learned. The proverb further acknowledges the roots of Maori culture embedded in Oceania, a worldview shared by many cultures of the great Moana. It pays tribute to a shared ancestry and history that has been shaped by over a millennium of dynamic relationships of exploration, encounter and exchange.

It is this common heritage that we seek to explore further as we gather in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland, a 21st century urban setting within which to view the confluence of culture, heritage and art. Socially and physically we have arrived at a place where concepts like 'traditional', 'contemporary', 'art', 'craft', 'old' and 'new' have a renewed fluidity. Within this overarching theme four subthemes have been identified which will be integrated throughout each day of the Symposium.




In his influential essay 'Our Sea of Islands' the late Professor 'Epeli Hau'ofa posited that the Moana/Ocean connects rather than separates Island peoples. Hau'ofa argued that the Oceanic people lived interconnected lives as spirited and heroic as the ocean they lived in. If this extensive and interwoven citizenship is increasingly how Oceanic peoples perceive and conduct themselves in modern times, as Hau'ofa contends, how is this borne out as new and broader relationships are forged in the new millennium? 

Topics under this theme include: Indigeneity in the 21st Century; Indigenous epistemologies; Indigenous knowledge; for whom, by whom? Indigenous gatherings - on whose terms? New generation, New aspirations.


How do we make sense of the future if we don't understand the past? Social and cultural values often compete with economic and political imperatives shaping and re-shaping endeavours through time. The opportunity to reflect on the legacies of formative movements and ideas that have shaped the arts and cultural landscape of the Pacific over the past fifty years is offered here. Sessions under this subtheme will focus on performance arts.

Topics under this theme include: The state of Performing Arts – Theatre, Dance, Music and Literature; Heritage arts in the diaspora; Art Collectives; Art and Indigeneity


Too often the makers themselves are absent from the discourse of Pacific art and visual culture. As this symposium is situated in the Pacific we seek to include the makers where possible, so that all are privileged with hearing their voices, knowledge and perspectives as they offer understandings of Pacific art. Makers will be the focal point of these sessions taking place on the Marae.

Topics will centre around: Mana taonga; Carving, Tattooing, Currency/Adornment, Textile arts, Clay and Feather-work – material arts in the new millennium; Oral and Literary arts, Maker and Researcher Collaborations


For peoples and cultures of the great Moana art is a lived experience. Today there are many cultural spaces where Pacific Arts are showcased. These range from Western spaces such as galleries and museums that provide innovative forums, to wider cultural spaces such as Polyfest and Churches where 'unknown' master artists regularly exhibit their creativity and ingenuity. The fast changing pace of technology has also enabled multiple means for documenting and recording as well as providing virtual spaces for instant and global sharing of art.

Topics under this theme include: Heritage practices and innovation; Alternative exhibiting spaces; Community galleries; Indigenous curatorial practice; Capturing and Recording; Social media, Digital, Photography, Street Art; Performing arts; Arts Collectives


Please take note of the following key dates for the submission process:

Abstract Submission opens
From Friday 7 August 2015

Abstract Submission  - NOW CLOSED
Monday 19 October 2015

Abstract Review
From Friday 23 October 2015

Notification of Acceptance
From Thursday 12 November 2015


  • Those submitting abstracts do not need to be a member of PAA, but anyone who attends or presents at the Auckland symposium in March 2016 will need to be a member in good standing for 2016
  • To join PAA or to check your membership status please visit
  • All PAA 2016 presenters (and co presenters) must be registered to attend the Symposium and are responsible for their own expenses (including but not limited to travel, transportation, accommodation and meals - except those provided as part of registration)
  • Presenters are responsible for the transport and security for any materials (cultural artifacts, artworks, etc) while in Aotearoa and the hosts will not be responsible for these items
  • If travelling from outside Aotearoa presenters are required to have a valid passport and arrange any required entry visas
  • English is the language of the Symposium. If the presenter wishes to present in another language it is their responsibility to provide a translator
  • By submitting an abstract the presenter agrees for the hosts of the PAA 2016 to copy, print and disseminate your abstract and short biography
  • By submitting an abstract the presenter agrees to allow the hosts of the PAA 2016 to photograph video and/or film their presentation for PAA 2016 purposes only (promotion and documentation of the event). if you have a question regarding this, please email Event Manager, Luana Walker


For those willing to attend the conference, independently from the selection of presenters, the Organising Committee can provide an official invitation based on request, which may be needed for authorisation of leave, justification for funding, application for visa, or other reasons.