Fale Samoa’s Extended Boundaries: Performing Place and Identity
Originating half a century ago in Europe, the critique authenticity and identity were quickly taken up in the USA, and subsequently in countries like New Zealand. Towards the end of the twentieth century, someone using the word ‘authentic’ in New Zealand was immediately under suspicion of essentialism. Māori who did not want to relinquish notions of authenticity and identity often became targets of such criticism. The notion of identity is, of course, further complicated in diasporic situations, where its articulation at the intersection of dwelling and travelling claims continuity within discontinuity. This paper explores notions of identity and authenticity as performance, in the force field of past and present imperialisms and globalisation, through the histories of several ‘travelling houses’ from Samoa and Aotearoa New Zealand. For more than a century, Pacific houses have been displayed in fairs, parks or museums: three Māori wharenui (meeting houses) and a Sāmoan fale tele (council house) were instrumental in performing European and Pasifika identities in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Three fale and Te Aroha o Te Iwi Māori, the central and largest whare at the Māori village, were built at the Polynesian Cultural Center (Hawai’i) in 1961–63. In 2004, a fale arrived at the Tropical Islands Resort in Brand, Germany, which had been built on commission by tufuga fau fale and was reassembled at the resort. These houses not only signify but per/form identities, according to inconsistent, even conflicting values. Our paper investigates exchanges between three regions, worlds apart yet with shared histories. We first explore notions of place and identity at exhibitions featuring Māori whare and fale Samoa in the USA, Europe and Aotearoa New Zealand. Then, we address aspects of critical regionalism relevant to (post)colonial contexts and, finally, we discuss exhibitions as performative practices. We deliberately see-saw between diverse geographical, theoretical and political positions, to generate relational spaces that transcend geo-political boundaries, yet remain local and specific.
The authors gratefully acknowledge Ross Jenner and Benita Simati’s support with the drafting of the original paper. This chapter is a significantly revised and expanded version.
- Acting Assistant Secretary External Affairs Wellington. (1940). Memorandum for Secretary, Samoan Administration dated 12th Jan 1940. National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa: Cat No. IT 1 495/ EX 87/20/7.Google Scholar
- Anae, M. A., & Mila-Schaaf. K. (with Coxon, E., Mara, D., & Sang, K. (2010). Teu Le Va: Relationships across research and policy in Pasifika education. https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/pasifika/teu-le-va-relationships-across-research-and-policy-in-pasifika-education/appendices.
- Assistant Secretary. (1938). Memorandum to Secretary, Samoan Administration dated 1st Aug 1938. National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa: Cat No. 1 495/ EX 87/20/7.Google Scholar
- Bell, L. (1989). Walters and Maori Art: The nature of the relationship. In J. Ross & L. Simmons (Eds.), Gordon Walters: Order and intuition. Auckland: Walters Publication.Google Scholar
- Benveniste, É. (1969). Indo-European Language and Society. London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
- Best, E. (1924). The Maori as He was. Wellington: Government Printer.Google Scholar
- Buck, T. (1949). Samoan material culture. Honolulu: Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum Bishop Museum.Google Scholar
- Butler, J., & Spivak, G. (2007). Who sings the nation-state? Language, politics, belonging. New York: Seagull Books.Google Scholar
- Chakrabarty, D. (2008). Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial thought and historical difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Colquhoun, A. (1997). The concept of regionalism. In G. Nalbantoglu & C. Wong (Eds.), Postcolonial Space(s). New York: Princeton Architectural Press.Google Scholar
- Der Spiegel (1985) No 44 (28.10.1985).Google Scholar
- Dürbeck, G. (2006). Samoa als inszeniertes paradies: Völkerschauen um 1900 und die tradition der populären südseeliteratur. In C. Grewe (Ed.), Die schau des fremden: Ausstellungskonzepte zwischen kunst, kommerz und wissenschaft. Stuttgart: Steiner.Google Scholar
- Eames, A. (2006). Welcome to Germany’s pleasure dome, The Sunday Times. 21 May. http://travel.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,10290–2187529,00.html. Accessed 6 June 2006.
- Ellis, N. (2012). ‘No hea koe?: Where are you from?’ Māori meeting houses overseas. In B. Schmelz & W. Köpke (Eds.), The House Rauru: Masterpiece of the Māori. Mitteilungsband 44. Hamburg: Museum für Völkerkunde.Google Scholar
- Engels-Schwarzpaul, A.-C. (2001). Myth, symbol, ornament: The loss of meaning in transition (PhD Thesis, The University of Auckland). http://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/handle/2292/48.
- Engels-Schwarzpaul, A.-C. (2006). -13.833333/-171.73334 in 51.466667/14.766666. Whose Tropics, Whose Fale? In T. McMinn, J. Stephens, & S. Basson (Eds.), Contested Terrains: Proceeedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians Australia and New Zealand. Fremantle: SAHANZ.Google Scholar
- Engels-Schwarzpaul, A.-C. (2007a). Tillers of the soil/traveling journeymen: Modes of the virtual. Transformations. Walter Benjamin and the virtual: Politics, art, and mediation in the age of global culture. 15. http://www.transformationsjournal.org/journal/issue_15/article_12.shtml.
- Engels-Schwarzpaul, A.-C. (2007b). Travel in tropical islands: Enemies coexisting in peace. Interstices: Journal of Architecture and Related Arts, 8, 21–30.Google Scholar
- Engels-Schwarzpaul, A.-C. (2009). Out there: Whare and Fale Performing Abroad. In J. Gatley (Chair, Ed.), Society of architectural historians, Australia and New Zealand. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the Cultural Crossroads—26th International SAHANZ Conference: Auckland, NZ.Google Scholar
- Engels-Schwarzpaul, A.-C., & Simati Kumar, B. (2014). A Fale Samoa at Tropical Islands Resort, Germany: Performing Samoa to the world. In Proceedings of Samoa Conference II: Tracing Footprints of Tomorrow: Past lessons, present stories, future lives. 4th–8th July 2011. http://samoanstudies.ws/publications/samoa-conference-ii-proceedings/.
- Fitzgerald, S. (2015). Interview with Tina Engels-Schwarzpaul, Lāi’e, 23rd Oct.Google Scholar
- Frampton, K. (1989). Towards a critical regionalism. In H. Foster (Ed.), Postmodern culture. London: Pluto Press.Google Scholar
- Grewe, C. (Ed.). (2006). Die schau des fremden: Ausstellungskonzepte zwischen kunst, kommerz und wissenschaft. Stuttgart: Steiner.Google Scholar
- Hamilton, A. (1901). The art workmanship of the Maori race in New Zealand. New Zealand Institute: Wellington.Google Scholar
- Harrison, R. (2011). Consuming colonialism: Curio dealers’ catalogues, souvenir objects and Indigenous agency in Oceania. In S. Byrne, A. Clarke, R. Harrison, & R. Torrence (Eds.), Unpacking the collection: One world archaeology. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Jahnke, R. (1996). Voices Beyond the Pae. He Pukenga Korero, 2(1), 12–19.Google Scholar
- Johnston, E. (1999). Representing the Pacific at international exhibitions 1851–1940 (PhD Thesis, The University of Auckland).Google Scholar
- Laguardia, D. (2009). Book review: Who sings the nation-state? Lectora, 15, 349–353.Google Scholar
- Le Tagaloa, A. F. A. (1998). Bekenntnisse einer Fledermaus. In G. Kroeber-Wolf & P. Mesenhöller (Eds.), Talofa! Samoa, Südsee: Ansichten und einsichten. Museum für Völkerkunde: Frankfurt.Google Scholar
- Lehner, E. (u.d.). Elementare architektur skelettbauweisen: skelettbauweisen mit sekundärem tragsystem das fale tele auf Samoa. http://www.baukunst.tuwien.ac.at/abk/texte/skelettbauweisen/b-fale_tele.html. Accessed 22 May 2017.
- Macpherson, C. (1962). The political theory of possessive individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
- Maxwell, A. (2000). Colonial photography and exhibitions: Representations of the Native and the making of European identities. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
- McLintock, A. (Ed.). (1966). An encyclopedia of New Zealand. Wellington: Government Printer.Google Scholar
- Meleisea, M., & Meleisea, P. (1994). Lagaga: A short history of Western Samoa. Suva: University of the South Pacific.Google Scholar
- Mesenhöller, P. (1995). Ethnography considers history: Some examples from Samoa. In C. Blanton (Ed.), Picturing paradise: Colonial photography of Samoa, 1875 to 1925. Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum für Völkerkunde: Köln.Google Scholar
- Minh-ha, T. (1987). Of other people: Beyond the salvage paradigm. In H. Foster (Ed.), Discussions in contemporary culture. Seattle: Bay Press.Google Scholar
- Minh-ha, T. (2011). Elsewhere, within here: Immigration, refugeeism and the boundary event. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Moe, D. (2015). Interview with Albert Refiti 15th October.Google Scholar
- Moorfield, J. C. (2017). Te Aka Online Māori Dictionary. Retrieved 28 June, 2017, from http://maoridictionary.co.nz/.
- Moors, H. (1986). Some recollections of early Samoa. Apia: Western Samoa Historical and Cultural Trust.Google Scholar
- Padel, R. (1990). Making space speak. In J. Winkler & F. Zeitlin (Eds.), Nothing to do with dionysos? Athenian drama in its social context. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Ricœur, P. (1992). Universal civilization and national cultures: History and truth. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
- Schneider, W. (1981). Colonies at the 1900 World Fair in Paris. History Today, 31, 31–36.Google Scholar
- Secretary Administration of Western Samoa. (1923). Memorandum for Secretary, External Affairs, Wellington. Dated 25th Sept. 1923. National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa. Cat No. IT EX 87/20.Google Scholar
- Sloterdijk, P. (2005). Im weltinnenraum des kapitals. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
- Sloterdijk, P. (2009). Spheres theory: Talking to myself about the poetics of space. Harvard Design Magazin. www.gsd.harvard.edu/events/pdf/Peter_Sloterdijk.pdf. Accessed 27 October 2009.
- Smith, L. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples. Dunedin: University of Otago Press.Google Scholar
- Spurrier, S. (1924). Without a Single Nail!: Building a Samoan “Fale” at Wembley. The Illustrated London News. May 24.Google Scholar
- Steffen-Schrade, J. (1998). Exkurs: Samoaner im Frankfurter zoo. In G. Kroeber-Wolf & P. Mesenhöller (Eds.), Talofa! Samoa, Südsee: Ansichten und einsichten. Museum für Völkerkunde: Frankfurt.Google Scholar
- Stevenson, R. (1895). A footnote to history: Eight years of trouble in Samoa. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.Google Scholar
- Tcherkézoff, S. (2008). First contacts in Polynesia: The Samoan case (1722–1848): Western misunderstandings about sexuality and divinity. Canberra: ANU EPress.Google Scholar
- Tisdall, C. (2012). China Syndrome Dictates Barack Obama’s Asia-Pacific Strategy. The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/06/china-barack-obama-defence-strategy. Accessed 25 May 2017.
- Tropical Island Management GMBH. (2005). The Tropical Village. Tropical Island Management GmbH. http://www.my-tropical-islands.com/village/index-e.htm. Accessed 12 November 2005.
- Wikitera, K.-A. (2015). Māori spaces in foreign places. Hinemihi o Te Ao Tawhito. (PhD Thesis, Auckland University of Technology).Google Scholar