Condoms in the trolley

Supermarket, Devonport, Auckland, 1977, by John Daley. Gift of John Daley, 2012.  © Te Papa (O.038942)

Does anyone remember having to go into a pharmacy and ask for condoms? 30 years ago today saw a massive change in how New Zealanders bought condoms – for the first time they became available on supermarket shelves. Until 1985, condoms were bought mainly from chemist shops. Boxes were either on display or customers had… Read more »

Why museums matter: activism, politics and protest

Next week we have the privilege of welcoming Professor Richard Sandell, a leading museologist from the UK, to Te Papa. Richard, who my colleague devoutly declares ‘should be compulsory reading for anyone working in a museum’, is one of the keynote speakers at this year’s Federation of International Human Rights conference. His keynote address, ‘Why Museums Matter:… Read more »

Long she reigned over us: Queen Victoria at Te Papa

  • Victoria 13
  • Victoria 12
  • Victoria 10
  • Victoria 9a

With Queen Elizabeth II’s lengthy reign (my entire lifetime, and more!) now overtaking that of Queen Victoria, it makes sense to look at some of Te Papa’s fascinating and diverse objects that relate to the earlier monarch and empress. I can’t hope to summarise what Queen Victoria was like – that requires not a blog… Read more »

Austin’s Mandarin challenge

Nǐhǎo from Austin Wang. Photo by Ken Downie, 2012

Austin Wang was born in Auckland but his family comes from Shenyang city in China. They speak Mandarin at home, and the family’s Chinese heritage is an important part of their busy life.   Austin hears and speaks Mandarin at home all the time, but the challenge to teach him to read and write Mandarin while… Read more »

Celebrating Pasifika @ StoryPlace

Celebrating Pasifika, Photograph: Michael Hall, © Te Papa

Mālō e lelei! (Hello) We are having a great time up in PlaNet Pasifika Discovery Centre with our current StoryPlace programme, Celebrating Pasifika. This programme has been specifically developed to align with Pacific Language Week activities, and we have been so fortunate to work with members of both our regional ECE and Pasifika communities to shape the content. We have had a lot… Read more »

Dreaming of the modern – Helen Hitchings

Photo of Helen Hitchings

It was while Helen Hitchings (1920-2002) was in hospital during the early 1940s that the idea of forming a gallery came to her. The Gallery of Helen Hitchings was opened in Wellington in 1949, her mission to promote an awareness of ‘good domestic design’, made by New Zealanders– up to date examples of modernism free… Read more »

Extinct birds of New Zealand, Part 5 – Moa

  • Skull and mandible of South Island giant moa (Dinornis robustus). Te Papa Collections Online S.028225
  • Skull and mandible of little bush moa (Anomalopteryx didiformis). Te Papa Collections Online S.035274
  • Skull and mandible of stout-legged moa (Euryapteryx curtus). Te Papa Collections Online S.030212
  • Pachyornis elephantopus Tmt

In common usage, the term ‘moa’ is often used as if it refers to a single species. This is a long way from the truth. Not only are nine different species recognised, but they are classified in three separate families. They were the best example of adaptive radiation among vertebrates in New Zealand (at least… Read more »

Captain Cook’s inspirational waistcoats

Alison Larkin's replica of Captain Cook's waistcoat on display at the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby, 2015. Photo courtesy of Alison Larkin.

Te Papa’s Captain Cook waistcoat During Te Papa’s recent ‘Open House’ weekend many visitors on the Costume & Textile Store tour were captivated by Captain Cook’s waistcoat, or at least a waistcoat reputed to have been worn by the great explorer. The beautifully embroidered waistcoat is said to have come from a house where James Cook once stayed.  The… Read more »