One Salt Ocean

Experience the diverse and dynamic cultures of Pasifika peoples through stories and objects from across the region.

The Australian Museum (AM) has one of the world's largest and most significant Pacific cultural collections, which this year went on display in the new permanent Pasifika Gallery, Wansolmoana. It features more than 300 objects from the Pasifika collection of more than 60,000 held at the AM, along with newly commissioned pieces from 32 Pacific communities across 19 Pacific nations.

Wansolmoana, which means ‘one salt ocean’, celebrates the rich history and traditions of the Pacific nations, looking at their past, present and future, blending the wisdom of ancestors with the voices of the present to ensure a vibrant legacy for future generations.

The gallery acts as a springboard for educating visitors about the historical plights of Pasifika peoples and their concerns about the global climate emergency. Pacific nations are some of the most threatened coastal communities on Earth. ‘One salt ocean’ reflects the cultural significance of the immense body of water that connects the islands and people across the region.

AM audiences are also encouraged to engage in outreach programs, public talks, and other activities, such as the outreach initiative Wansolmoana Connect, which brings together Sydney’s Pasifika diaspora community leaders and youth groups to help preserve knowledge and traditions within families with Pacific Island heritage.

Melissa Malu, Wansolmoana curator and Australian Museum Manager, Pasifika Collections & Engagement.
Melissa Malu, Wansolmoana curator and Australian Museum Manager, Pasifika Collections & Engagement. Image: James Alcock © Australian Museum

Curated by the Australian Museum’s Pasifika staff and cultural knowledge holders in Australia and from around the Pacific, Wansolmoana is the result of five years of engagement with community voices from Rotuma, Fiji Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Kiribati, Aotearoa New Zealand and other Pasifika nations.

The Australian Museum’s exhibition lead curator and Manager of Pasifika Collections & Engagement, Melissa Malu, is a proud Fijian and Tongan woman. She led the curation of the gallery, saying that Wansolmoana is an invaluable step towards reconciliation between Australia and Pasifika people and that by displaying this unique collection, the AM hopes to encourage the exploration of cultures that are also part of the social fabric of Australia.

These objects are significantly important to the Pacific diaspora in Australia and offers them the opportunity to reconnect with their ancestral heritage.

Melissa Malu, Manager of Pasifika Collections & Engagement

Exhibition opening

The opening of Wansolmoana was marked by a community event, attended by members of the Pacific diaspora, providing a meaningful way to reconnect with their ancestral heritage.

The new Pasifika Gallery will also serve as a springboard for engaging audiences through outreach programs, public talks, and other activities. This includes the outreach initiative Wansolmoana Connect which brings together Pasifika diaspora, community leaders and youth groups from western and south-western Sydney. Run as pilot workshops in recent years, the programs have had a proven impact, building confidence and a sense of belonging among Pasifika youth participants.


The Australian Museum would like to thank the Pasifika curatorium, Pasifika diaspora in Australia and communities from within the various Pacific Islands for their generosity, insights, stories and cultural knowledge shared throughout Wansolmoana.

The Pasifika Gallery has been made possible through the generous support of The Macdoch Foundation. With their support, the AM is now able to realise its mission of education, research and special programs with the Pacific community.

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