Posts written by Te Papa

‘Frown for the camera’: The unsettling gaze of the New Zealand wars wounded


Summer scholar Caitlin Lynch has taken a particular interest in a number of photos featuring soldiers badly wounded in battle. Caitlin speculates on why these photographs were taken, particularly after the battle of Te Ngutu o te Manu. Did these photographs generate public sympathy and encourage pensions? Or was it a statement of bravery, commitment, and sacrifice?… Read more »

Playing Sherlock: How a chair unlocked the story behind a portrait of a New Zealand wars soldier


Summer scholar Caitlin Lynch has taken a particular interest in a 19th-century portrait of New Zealand wars soldier Frederick Rowan that we knew very little about. Caitlin describes how a breakthrough clue, in the form of an ornate chair, led to the intriguing story of the solider’s facial injury and reconstruction. The Gordon Collection The Gordon… Read more »

Rongowhakaata: Borrowing from iwi to build the exhibition


If you’ve ever wondered what’s involved when museums loan and borrow taonga, you’re in luck: our Loans and Acquisitions Advisor Amy Cosgrove sheds light on the process behind Ko Rongowhakaata: The Story of Light and Shadow, as well as revealing an ‘average’ day. What is your role and what does it entail? I am a loans and acquisitions advisor. With… Read more »

Remembering Te Papa’s opening day

  • Te Papa's opening day 14 Feb 1998. Te Papa
  • Entrance to the Time Warp, 1998. Te Papa
  • Steph's friend early morning at the opening, 1998
  • Crowds in front of Te Papa

20 years ago today, on 14 February 1998, Te Papa opened its doors for the first time. The day was marked by food, music, and celebration. Hay bales laid out on the forecourt lent the occasion a rural, and particularly Kiwi, flavour. New Zealand bands entertained the huge crowds. The sun shone, and the wind blew…. Read more »

Condoms, critics, and controversies: Te Papa’s early days

Protesters in Te Papa

14 Feb marks ours 20th anniversary. Author of ‘Te Papa: Reinventing New Zealand’s national museum’ Conal McCarthy retells some of the early criticisms, controversies, and protests when we opened in 1998. – Extract taken from the book Te Papa: Reinventing New Zealand’s national museum 1998-2018, published this month by Te Papa Press. Art lovers wanted a more… Read more »

Cigarette packets and chocolate boxes: How we used to store our collections


Storing collections in the right space and environment is incredibly important in museums – so would you be surprised to see natural history specimens stored in colourful vintage cigarette packets? Curator Alan Tennyson and conservator Robert Clendon shed light on past practice. Modern museum storage involves rows and rows of uniform beige and grey boxes,… Read more »

Te reo Kiwi: Are you using Māori every day?

  • Te Papa
  • Fridge
  • Weaving family together
  • Manu

Te Papa is always looking for creative ways to promote te reo Māori. What are some of the ways we’re doing that? How’s the whānau? What’s your favourite kai? Can you count to tekau? Some New Zealanders use Māori kupu in everyday conversation, dropping Māori words into English. If that’s you, then you’re talking what… Read more »