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AWMM awards Cook Is’ Mary Ama Museum Medal

Cook Islander Mary Ama awarded Museum Medal for her contributions to preserving culture, Radio NZ, 1 July 2024

Cook Islander Mary Ama has been awarded a prestigious Museum Medal (Companion of Auckland War Memorial Museum) recognising her contributions to Pacific arts and preserving cultural heritage.

Mary Ama with her Museum Medal. Photo: Supplied / Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Upon immigrating to New Zealand from Rarotonga, Ama founded ‘Pacifica Mamas‘ in the 1980’s, a space for Pacific artists and knowledge holders to actively practice, teach and preserve indigenous arts.

This gathering continues today through Moanaroa, the Pacific Arts Centre in West Auckland.

Home to over 32,000 members from 26 ethnic groups, the space provides the opportunity for an intergenerational exchange of traditional knowledge.

Weavers, carvers, artists, dancers and more congregate at the centre to share their talents with younger generations of New Zealand-born Pacific islanders.

Ama said she was “moved beyond words” at the awards ceremony at the Auckland Museum on 26 June.

“I feel honored and humbled to receive the Museum Medal, but know it is not mine alone. It acknowledges the huge contribution, stories and knowledge shared by our people of Te moana nui a kiva (Pacific Ocean).”

Cook Islander Mary Ama receives her Museum Medal on stage. Photo: Supplied / Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Auckland Museum Tumu Whakarae chief executive David Reeves said the Museum Medals recognise individuals who have delivered excellence in the study of our cultural and natural heritage.

“This year’s recipients have made major contributions to their areas of study and the creation of new knowledge, and it is a privilege to be able to celebrate their achievement with the recognition of the Museum Medals,” he said.

Ama was one of four winners of this year’s Museum Medals, alongside Dr John Braggins (Associate Emeritus of Auckland War Memorial Museum), Dr Susan Abasa (Companion of Auckland War Memorial Museum) and Christina Hurihia Wirihana (Companion of Auckland War Memorial Museum).

Ama was one of four winners of this year’s Museum Medals, alongside Dr John E. Braggins, Dr Susan Abasa and Christina Hurihia Wirihana. Photo: Supplied / Auckland War Memorial Museum.