PAMBU:Pacific Manuscripts Bureau Newsletter. Series 5, no. 27, Feb. 2010

Having recently read the sad history of Nameplaces Australia, it’s nice to see that this University placed initiative has managed to survive a recent University restructure.  Ewan Maidment details what changes have occurred, and then follows with the usual exhausting and exhaustive list of activities undertaken by the Bureau.  In addtion to site visits and the impressive microfilming work undertaken by the Bureau, they have recently taken in a topical collection of material relating to disaster risk management in the Pacific, and are working with the extremely controversial Ok Tedi – Fly River Land owners case files.  Ewan also provides a brief summary of staff, including the news that Ewan himself is in “transition to retirement”, due in November this year.  (Shauna Hicks and I spoke about this sometime ago, and we are expecting the world to end around then.)

PAMBU includes reprints of articles on a wide range of subjects from Mangaian performance masks, to a summary of the PARBICA workshop in September 2009, and a devastating review of the PNG National Archives.  ” Our National Archives”, writes Sam Kaima,” which used to be one of the best in the Pacific Islands region, is slowly dying due to lack of support and funds.” Sam’s litany of disaster will be sadly familiar to many – failure to transfer archives, downsizing and deskilling of staff, lack of space and no plans for more…

It is good then to turn to the report on the National Archives of Solomon Island by Brandon Oswald of Island Culture Archival Support, detailed at  Plagued by power outages and with limited supplies, the project assisted with training and support for the ongoing preservation of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate records.  Ewan’s detailed reports of his trips to Vanuatu and Rarotonga played to a similar theme, emphasising both the extraordinary depth of the collections and the risks which they face, as well as his own awareness and appreciation of the cultures and people with whom he works.

‘Staying at the Aututaki Hostel… was not only convenient but provided the best entertainment. About 100 Aitutakians arrived to prepare for Te Maeva Nui annual inter-island dance competition. The Hostel woke at 6:30 am to the most beautiful custom hymn, sung in parts, prayers, a sermon and speeches, then leapt up to exercises, cooking, eating, washing, cleaning, making costumes and rehearsing the songs and dances accompanied by slit drums, base drum, conch shells and yells, like Tarvurvur in full eruption, and continuing off and on unitl more speeches and evening prayer at about midnight.” (p. 10)


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Archivist, historian, avid reader

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