Free Work

Free Work

I don’t actually work here. Well, I am doing work here, but for free. I’m currently half-way through a PGDip in Museum and Heritage Studies and as part of that, I get to do a placement. Just like how teachers do placements at schools, I’m doing one at a museum. And instead of working with tamariki, I get to work with (a different kind of) taonga. I’m learning about the narratives that inform our taonga alongside the people that care for our taonga. What a flash girl!

So here I am first week on the job with my Te Papa swipe card, roaming around seeing what doors it can open. Officially I’m researching Māori involvement in WW1 for the 2014 WW1 Centenary Exhibition under my whanaunga the multi-talented Māori curator Puawai Cairns (there’s something special in those Tauranga waters alright). I’ve been reading about the mana wahine of Ethel Pritchard and the moving speeches of Rev. Te Wainohu.

Military Insignia - Maori Battalion, circa. 1916. Maker unknown. Te Papa
Military Insignia – Maori Battalion, circa. 1916. Maker unknown. Te Papa

But when the letters in Te Kopara get a bit too sad, I head off to help install the new Hinepūtehue Exhibition. Or I tag along with Puawai to attend meetings about acquisitions, taonga tūturu or the exhibition development process. Throughout the week I had Ke Emu Training (Te Papa’s collection database) blog training, eDOCS training and a Library tour, (yes there’s still a library). Thursday alone, I went to the dawn Matariki ceremony and then jumped on a back of house tour through Te Ahuru Mowai, Te Whare Pora and the Pounamu store with the kaihoe from Te Matau a Maui.

It Friday afternoon now and I’ve just been watching Te Waka Huia, Ria Hall and Magic do their sound check for the Matariki Concert. Is that JGeek and the Geeks I can hear from my desk?

I guess working for free ain’t all that bad!


  1. wo, that’s got to the coolest job ever. workin at te papa! nice!

  2. Nice one cuz, I’m also working for free at the moment!

  3. What a great opportunity! I would have loved to have done something similar while in school. Sounds like you are making the most of it! Enjoy!

  4. Don’t be jealous, Sam Russell. And a spellcheck function would be helpful for you.

    You’re doing great work, Bridget! Keep it up 🙂

  5. I care about your work! And you’re doing a great job too.

  6. I don’t care about your freaken work

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