Posts categorized as History

Makeshift money: Tokens in the Te Papa collection

  • A busy trading centre: Auckland in the 1850s. Hogan, Patrick Joseph, 1804-1878. [Hogan, Patrick Joseph], 1804-1878 :Auckland (Nouvelle-Zelande). Vue du nouveau quai - page 210 [Paris, l'Univers illustre, 1860]. Ref: A-438-012. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22371053
  • Coombes as depicted in Observer, Volume 5, Issue 130, 3 March 1883. He is holding a hose, as he was well known for hosing down the path outside his store to prevent dust.
  • Obverse of token issued by Samuel Coombes, New Zealand, minted by Thomas Stokes of Melbourne. Te Papa (NU002330)
  • Reverse of token issued by Samuel Coombes, New Zealand, minted by Thomas Stokes of Melbourne. Te Papa (NU002330)

Prompted by an enquiry from an independent scholar, history curator Katie Cooper has been researching a series of 19th century tradesmen’s tokens in Te Papa’s numismatics collection. Here she provides a brief history of this fascinating colonial currency. A shortage of change In the early 19th century a variety of foreign coins were circulating in New… Read more »

Elephants on your dinner table – looking at an old trade catalogue

Elephant (detail) from catalogue

Librarian Christine Kiddey browses for jelly moulds and other assorted household items in a trade catalogue from 1850. What do you do with all those trade catalogues and advertisements that come through your letterbox? You probably glance through them and throw them out. But imagine someone looking at those same catalogues a century and a half from… Read more »

In memory of Andrew Pfeiffer – Royal New Zealand Ballet’s ‘Master of the Wardrobe’

Andrew Pfeiffer - Wardrobe Master of the Royal New Zealand Ballet. Credit Susana Lei’ataua  Courtesy of the Royal New Zealand Ballet.

Senior history curator Claire Regnault pays tribute to New Zealand costumier and ‘Master of the Wardrobe’ at the Royal New Zealand Ballet, Andrew Pfeiffer. On Friday 3 March, Andrew Pfeiffer passed away at the age of 69 at Mary Potter Hospice in Wellington, surrounded by friends. Andrew, who was also known as Drew, or simply… Read more »

The global hunt for the original wandering albatross

"Chocolate albatross" in Vienna

Vertebrate Curator Alan Tennyson explores the history of the name of the wandering albatross and the hunt for the original specimens. The wandering albatross is one of the world’s greatest ocean wanderers, with individuals circumnavigating the Southern Ocean and travelling 120,000 km in a year. These albatrosses have been among the most high-profile of seabirds ever since… Read more »

Can New Zealand sustain its 119-year-old pension scheme as the population ages?

Sign, ’Polling Booth’, 1969, New Zealand, by Ministry of Justice. Gift of Chief Electoral Office, Ministry of Justice, 2007. CC BY-NC-ND licence. Te Papa (GH011741)

As the government announces plans to raise the pension age for the first time since Richard Seddon passed old-age pensions in 1898, history curator Kirstie Ross questions whether New Zealand can afford to support its aging population based on historic practices and attitudes. Historians agree that the 1898 law introducing old-age pensions was one of… Read more »

International Women’s Day – inspiring ‘women’s work’

  • Lady Plunket. S P Andrew Ltd :Portrait negatives. Ref: 1/1-014571-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Binney
  • Eco Warrior Laurie Foon behind the scenes at NZ Fashion Week, 2009. Photography courtesy of Megan Robinson, Thread magazine.
  • Dress

Today is International Women’s Day. Initiated in 1910, International Women’s Day is ‘a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women’. This year’s theme is Women in the Changing World of Work. Playing with this idea, we would like to pay homage to women who have sought to create change through their work. We are… Read more »

Wellington’s Central Park: A ramble through its history

Central Park gate (deatil). 2008. Photogrpah by Kirste Ross

Wellington’s Central Park – less familiar to many than the famous park of the same name in New York City – is one of the Wellington’s oldest public green spaces. History curator Kirstie Ross rambles through some of the highs and lows of its 114 year history. Central Park’s formal genesis, in 1913, is connected to… Read more »

Pride and prejudice: LGBTIQ+ histories made visible

Bag, ’Dolly does Devotion’, 1997, Petone, by Colin McLean. Purchased 1997 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds. Te Papa (GH005698)

Curating inclusive history collections that represent diverse experiences, including LGBTIQ+ stories, enables Te Papa to present Aotearoa New Zealand to ourselves and the world, says history curator Lynette Townsend. Efforts are made to ensure that the history collections represent historical stories from diverse cultural perspectives, ages, genders and sexualities. It’s an aspect of the curatorial… Read more »

Telling stories through fashion: A history of eco-friendly Starfish

Printed fabric samples from the Wonderland collection, Winter 2006, CA001200/004/0002. Photograph by Gareth Watkins

It’s not every day that you get to delve into the nitty-gritty details of a fashion label. Te Papa’s assistant archivist Gareth Watkins is going through Starfish’s archive, recently gifted to Te Papa. I’m sitting in a popular Wellington café with Te Papa archivist Jennifer Twist and Laurie Foon – founder of the Wellington-based Starfish fashion… Read more »

Mysteries of the Phantom wooden shield: Putting together the pieces

Black lines following holes in the painted wooden surface, suggesting the probable pattern of lashing from a historic decorative scheme. Image created by Cat Williams.

Conservator Catherine Williams is investigating one of Te Papa’s recent acquisitions – a painted wooden shield from Papua New Guinea featuring The Phantom – from a conservation perspective, and blogging about it along the way. If you missed her first post, read it here. Uncovering the mysteries of a collection item such as the Phantom… Read more »