chapter  4
On looking at a Tahitian god-house: Steven Hooper
WithSTEVEN HOOPER
Pages 11

This contribution is offered as a personal tribute to Peter Gathercole, and refl ects his encouragement of students to look at objects – to examine them, appreciate them and, in many cases, be awed by them. I fi rst encountered Peter in 1974 in London, when he gave a lecture on Ma-ori artefacts. He discussed a number of objects, among them a rei puta neck-pendant in the British Museum and various Cook Voyage pieces in Cambridge, including the shell and wood trumpet on which he later published a paper (1976). Such, I recall, was the dynamic and motivational nature of Peter’s presentation that soon afterwards I visited Cambridge and was encouraged by him to consider postgraduate study. I eventually went to Fiji to do doctoral research, and am now teaching Pacifi c art and running a research project on Polynesia. I cannot say that Peter can be blamed for this, but I am grateful for his enduring energetic engagement with his subject matter, because without that spark, which reminded me of the inspiring approach of my own grandfather,1 my life might not have taken the course it did. It seems that by some happy operation of the law of unintended consequences (or perhaps of chaos theory), students would not now be studying Pacifi c art in my department had Peter not cavorted so enthusiastically on that stage in London some thirty years ago.