- Quartier Latin
Lonely Planet review for Mwâ Ka
This magnificent 12m totem pole, topped by a grande case (chief's hut) complete with flèche faîtière, stands in a landscaped square opposite Musée de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Mwâ Ka means the house of mankind - in other words, a house where discussions are held. Its carvings are divided into eight cylindrical sections representing the eight customary regions of New Caledonia. Mounted on a concrete double-hulled pirogue, the Mwâ Ka symbolises the mast but also the central post of a case.
At the back of the pirogue a wooden helmsman steers the Mwâ Ka ever forwards. The square's flowerbed arrangements depicting stars and moons are symbolic of navigation.
The Mwâ Ka was conceived by the Kanak community to commemorate 24 September, the anniversary of the French annexation of New Caledonia in 1853. Initially a day of mourning, the creation of the Mwâ Ka (inaugurated in 2005) symbolised the end of the mourning period thus giving the date a new significance. The erection of the Mwâ Ka was a way of burying past suffering related to French colonisation and turning what was a painful anniversary into a day for celebrating Kanak identity and the new multi-ethnic identity of New Caledonia.