Posts categorized as History

Wanted: Chinese laundry costume

Last week I posted a blog on the development of Poster Balls in New Zealand, along with a link to my Pinterest page where I am collating my finds. While I am particularly delighted with this photograph of a man dressed in a Dunlop tyre outfit from 1911 from the National Library’s collection, what I really want to find… Read more »

Ettie Rout: safer sex campaigner

Passport photograph of Ettie Rout, 1918.

Guest blogger Dame Margaret Sparrow writes about safer sex campaigner Ettie Rout: ‘One hundred years ago on 20 October 1915 twelve Volunteer Sisters gathered at Parliament Buildings to sign their Sisterhood Pledge and sailed off to Egypt the following day. The Volunteer Sisters were a band of women organised by Ettie Rout of Christchurch to… Read more »

Poster Balls: a new ‘species of fancy dress’

In September 1900, a new type of fund-raising ball caused a sensation in Australia, and made headlines across New Zealand – it was called a ‘Poster Ball’. While one reporter described it as a new ‘species of fancy dress’, another accurately called it ‘a new phase of advertising’. It was a novel combination both. In October 1900 this image from a Poster… Read more »

…it won’t be a lonely walk” – commemorating the 40th anniversary of the ‘Not One Acre More’ hīkoi

  • Maori Land March
  • Maori Land March
  • Maori Land March
  • Maori Land March, 1975, Wellington, by Ans Westra. Purchased 1993 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.  Te Papa (O.010219/02)

The 13th of October marks the fortieth anniversary of the arrival of the ‘Not One Acre More’ hīkoi (land march) on the steps of New Zealand Parliament. The hīkoi, accompanied by vehicles in support, left Te Hāpua at the top of the North Island on the 14 September 1975, and wound its way down to… Read more »

Van Gogh 125


One hundred and twenty five years ago, in a cornfield of raucous crows, Vincent van Gogh shot himself. On 15 October I am exploring the Van Gogh phenomenon in a public lecture, ‘Starry, starry night: looking at Vincent van Gogh’, Soundings Theatre, 6 pm. This is being presented on behalf of the Embassy of the… Read more »

  Last week a small dazzling selection of headdresses belonging to Carmen Rupe (1936 – 2011), went on display at Te Papa. Carmen was a legendary transgender performer and brothel owner – the headwear represents her more flamboyant side.   Each headdress is part of an ensemble, specially selected by Carmen for Te Papa’s history collection…. Read more »

Te Papa’s international textiles – Nigeria to New Zealand

East & West Missionary Exhibition label attached to one of the curios displayed there

East & West Missionary Exhibition A survey of the costume and textiles Te Papa’s International History collections now underway has shown that many of our collections from Africa and Asia retain links with an exhibition held almost 90 years ago.  In most instances, they have not been exhibited since then.  I’ve become fascinated by these… Read more »

Today is World Contraception Day!

Display case with one contraceptive pill stating 'the pill that changed the world' against a backdrop of visitors' comments 'Let's talk about sex'

World Contraception Day aims to improve awareness and access to the many contraceptive methods available, and to help people make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. Contraception: Uncovering the collection of Dame Margaret Sparrow is an exhibition at Te Papa which features just about every contraceptive device you can think of, from the… Read more »

What do you think of when you hear the words ‘human rights’? This week Te Papa hosted a fantastic and thought-provoking conference on human rights in museums with the theme: ‘Access is a human right’. Federation of International Human Rights Museums Speakers from around the world shared their experiences, and we shared ours – from… Read more »

Healing Te Papa’s Achilles Heel: George Dawe Redefined!

Dawe 1

Posh ignorance vs. best practice Art historians and curators can be obstinately wrong and obtuse even about great masterpieces. A notorious example is Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine (c. 1490) which should really be called Lady with a Ferret, but posh ignorance prevails. The best practitioners in the field are never afraid to… Read more »