Blog

Pacific Youth Reconnection Project: Waitangi Festival Celebrations

By: Ms Thelma Thomas, Michael Hugill, Category: Science, Date: 15 Feb 2013

Taking artifacts to the young and offering cultural information sessions and workshops.

Pacific Youth Reconnection Project: Waitangi Festival Celebrations #1

Thelma Thomas © Australian Museum

The Australian Museum established the Pacific Youth Reconnection Project, funded by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and Australian Museum Foundation.This project aims at addressing the over-representation of young Pacific people in the NSW juvenile justice system, through initiatives which connect Pacific young people and their communities to the Cultural Collections.

Waitangi Festival Celebrations took place at Holroyd Gardens, Merrylands on February 9, 2013. The Pacific Youth Reconnection Project presented a stall, showcasing some of the more recent artifacts from the Australian Museum.

The artifacts on display encouraged community members to speak to us about the Museum and the youth focused projects. This gave us an opportunity to share information about the outreach initiatives, including the partnerships with Juvenile Justice and further extensions into their centres, taking artifacts to the young people and offering cultural information sessions and workshops.

One of the centres, Frank Baxter, approved a young person to work with us in the Pacific Youth Reconnection Project stall. He had previously been mentored by the Cultural Collections team at the Australian Museum and had visited the collections over a 6 month period. He was able to share first hand, how these experiences had affected him and influenced his cultural expression in visual arts and future education and employment pathways.

On site was also an Australian Museum pop-up styled exhibition of Maori ‘taonga’ (treasures) from the collections. The Cultural Collection team members, Dion Peita, Keren Ruki, Logan Metcalfe and I were on hand to set up the stalls and participate in the event.

Being present gave us an opportunity to speak with community members, workers and organisations, who were interested in exploring potential partnerships and how they could contribute or participate in the Pacific Youth Reconnection Project. The event was very successful in engaging with communities, informing them of the Pacific collections and the project.

Vital connections were made with interested workers and community groups, with similar aims of tacking the issues of over-representation of Pacific young people in the Justice system.

Highlights of the day include witnessing the traditional welcome ceremony, working alongside the young person from Frank Baxter and sampling the tasty ‘hangi’ (Maori dish cooked in earth oven).

Thelma's position is funded by the Vincent Fairfax Foundation and Australian Museum Foundation.

For more information about the project, please contact Thelma Thomas.