Albert Wendt’s career as a writer and academic is well documented. Less widely known are his contributions to cultural development through his service on advisory groups and boards for different institutions. To these roles he brought a strong intellect and influential voice as a cultural activist and administrator. In the early 1990s, Wendt was an adviser for two of New Zealand’s leading cultural institutions. One of his key interventions was to critique the use of the terms “tradition” and “traditional” in the representation of Pacific arts and cultural practices. In this article, I reflect on Wendt’s written and vocal protestations against the uncritical use of these terms by Pacific Islanders and others in cultural discourse in New Zealand. In particular, I analyze his influence on the curatorial representation of Pacific peoples at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.