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Significant exhibitions at Otago, Canterbury and Auckland Museums and ten year birthday celebrations at Te Papa in Wellington

News from four main centre museums - 01/02/08


Jungle drums beating in the South

Otago Museum's Tropical Forest

With over 50,000 people visiting the Otago Museum's new Tropical Forest in little over two months there is no doubt it is the hottest place in Dunedin!

And at 28 degrees every day inside the Tropical Forest, this southern city is now guaranteed an eternal summer.

Drawn in by the unusual opportunity to be immersed in a lush, living tropical rainforest, visitors have been quick to respond to this outstanding new addition to the Otago Museum which opened in November. The chance to come face to face with around 1,000 living tropical butterflies has been irresistible and the Tropical Forest is the country's newest 'must see' attraction.

The Museum's Tropical Forest is the only three level live butterfly experience in Australasia. Visitors experience the hot and steamy rainforest from above, through the centre (via a unique glass swing bridge) and at the forest floor, encountering an amazing array of flora and fauna at all levels within. A stunning 6metre waterfall adds to the atmosphere ­and to the humidity which sits at around 80% for the residents' comfort. And all around the truly enchanting butterflies roam free,­ regularly stopping on visitors to say hello!

The Tropical Forest has attracted visitors from far and wide ­ and people of all ages, means and world-views! It's the most widely appealing experience the Museum has seen in its 140 years! And the smiles on the visitors' faces, and the precious care being taken and the pleasure being expressed is quite something. A visit to the Tropical Forest it seems is just the tonic for 2008.

"Butterflies are such an amazing story of survival," says Museum Chief Executive Shimrath Paul. "Combine this with their sheer beauty and ability to touch our hearts and you have something of universal appeal ­- a rare and very special thing. To create an opportunity for people to experience this, every day, has been an important way for the Otago Museum not only to communicate about science but to invigorate and feed the senses of our visitors as well."

For a truly uplifting experience, get a taste of the tropics at the Otago Museum. See the sights, hear the sounds, and feel the heat and humidity of the Tropical Forest! Already a three time New Zealand Tourism Award Winner, this outstanding new experience sees one of the world's best museums soar to new heights.

Tchakat Moriori: Taonga of the Chatham Islands

Moriori exhibition at Canterbury Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into a misunderstood culture.

A fascinating exhibition of rare Moriori artefacts is now showing at Canterbury Museum. Tchakat Moriori: Taonga of the Chatham Islands offers an insight into the culture and history of the Moriori, a people who have long been misunderstood and misrepresented.

Late nineteenth and early twentieth century scholars convinced themselves and the New Zealand public that Moriori were not Polynesian. The scholars contended that Moriori occupied New Zealand prior to Maori and that they were subsequently partly absorbed and partly driven out to the Chatham Islands by the more intelligent and enterprising Maori.

This completely inaccurate saga with its lurid allegations of Moriori physical and mental 'inferiority' has no basis in historical or anthropological fact, yet it was widely disseminated. Even today the 'man in the street' is likely to perpetuate the myth, believing it to be accurate. The truth is that Moriori are Polynesian, and the ancestors of the Moriori were the same people as the ancestors of Maori. Today's Moriori are the direct descendants of the Chatham Islands' 'tchakat henu' (tangata whenua), or original founding inhabitants, and were never forcefully driven from New Zealand.

Tchakat Moriori: Taonga of the Chatham Islands showcases objects used in daily life such as jewellery, weapons and tools along with spiritually significant artefacts, such as the Rakau Momori (meaning psalm or memory tree) bark carvings. These carvings were made on Kopi trees, Corynocarpus laevigatus, called karaka in New Zealand, over 200 years ago. Every glyph is different and unique and is dedicated to a specific ancestor or spiritual deity. In the 1950s, 1145 glyphs were recorded. However because of forest destruction today there are in all only 150 kopi trees remaining that bear living carvings. There are also about 30 examples in museums worldwide.

A Rakau Momori bark carving, or dendroglyph, from the exhibition Tchakat Moriori: Taonga of the Chatham Islands.
Image source Canterbury Museum
Click here to view a larger version

Tchakat Moriori: Taonga of the Chatham Islands is on at Canterbury Museum until December 2008. General admission to the Museum is free; donations are appreciated.

Auckland Museum

Nuclear Free: Protest Photography by Gil Hanly

An appropriate exhibition with its opening on November 11 timed to coincide with the Armistice symposium is a selection of images relating to the nuclear free Pacific movement by documentary photographer Gil Hanly.

9 November - 11 May 2008
Pictorial Gallery
Free with entry donation

With skill and concern Gil covered the anti-nuclear activities of the 1980s. Gil was witness to many protests, often outside the US Consulate in Auckland or the hazardous efforts of the peace squadrons against the entry of nuclear submarines and warships into New Zealand ports.

This social movement for global nuclear disarmament and a nuclear-free Pacific eventually saw the enactment of New Zealand's nuclear-free legislation and the revision of the ANZUS treaty.

Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior

The sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, codenamed Operation Satanic[1], was a special operation by the "action" branch of the French foreign intelligence services, the Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (DGSE), carried out on July 10, 1985. It aimed to sink the flagship of the Greenpeace fleet, the Rainbow Warrior, while she was docked in the port of Auckland, New Zealand, to prevent her from interfering in a nuclear test in Moruroa.

Fernando Pereira, a photographer, drowned on the sinking ship. Two of the French agents were subsequently arrested by the New Zealand Police on passport fraud and immigration charges. Following questioning, they were subsequently charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, willful damage, and murder. As part of a plea bargain, they eventually pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to ten years, just over two of which they served.

The ensuing scandal resulted in the resignation of the French Defence Minister Charles Hernu, and the subject became so touchy that it was not until twenty years afterward that the personal responsibility of French President François Mitterrand was officially admitted.

Rainbow Warror

Museum of New ZealandTe Papa Tongarewa

This site is also available in the Maori language.

Te Papa in Wellington prepares to celebrate 10 years at 'our place'

2008 marks ten years since the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa opened it doors to New Zealand and the world. Over 13.7 million visitors have visited Te Papa since 14 February 1998, an average of 1.3 million visitors per year, making it the most visited museum in Australasia.

'Te Papa is a museum of international standing, both as a creator and venue of world-class exhibitions, such as The Lord of the Rings exhibition and the popular Constable exhibition of recent times', said Dr Seddon Bennington, Te Papa's Chief Executive.

'We are a bicultural institution – a museum, an art gallery, an award-winning book publisher and an important scientific research institute. The diversity can be challenging but it's a creative challenge that inspires us to seek new, stimulating and surprising ways to engage our visitors,' Dr Bennington said.

Programme on Saturday 16 February

The year-long party will begin on Saturday 16 February with the museum being open from 10am -10pm and hosting events and activities for all. Performances include the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra with the Gareth Farr composition 'Te Papa' (originally commissioned for opening in 1998), the Wellington Ukelele Orchestra, Legacy Dance Crew, a special concert by Julia Deans (of Fur Patrol) and a range of cultural performance groups from across New Zealand. The day will finish with the lavish Queen of the Whole Universe pageant, followed by a festive fireworks display over the harbour at 10.00pm.

Exhibitions in 2008

After the popular and topical Whales | Tohor exhibition closes in May to tour North American institutions, the TOWER Gallery will host Rita Angus: Life & Vision, the most comprehensive retrospective to date with over 200 artworks and ephemera. This will be followed in November by a major M ori taonga (treasures) exhibition drawn from the successful Mauri Ora exhibition that showed in Japan last year and enhanced with the best of contemporary M ori art.

Publications

'Te Papa Press will be publishing Jill Trevelyan's biography of Rita Angus in April and a comprehensive catalogue to accompany the exhibition in July. Art at Te Papa, a major new book about Te Papa's art collection, will be published in October,' said Dr Bennington.

Interactive media technologies

An exciting, new experience in The TimeWarp zone on Level 2 will open in August and will utilise the latest interactive media technologies.

The birthday year will also feature an enhanced events programme as well as regular annual events such as the Treaty Debate series (31January and 7 February) and the Matariki Festival at Te Papa (7 - 29 June). The museum will host acts as part of the International Arts Festival (21 February - 16 March) and is also a venue for the Wellington Film Festival (18 July - 3 August).

2008 marks ten years since the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa opened it doors to New Zealand and the world. Over 13.7 million visitors have visited Te Papa since 14 February 1998, an average of 1.3 million visitors per year, making it the most visited museum in Australasia.

'Te Papa is a museum of international standing, both as a creator and venue of world-class exhibitions, such as The Lord of the Rings exhibition and the popular Constable exhibition of recent times', said Dr Seddon Bennington, Te Papa's Chief Executive.

'We are a bicultural institution – a museum, an art gallery, an award-winning book publisher and an important scientific research institute. The diversity can be challenging but it's a creative challenge that inspires us to seek new, stimulating and surprising ways to engage our visitors,' Dr Bennington said.

With so much that is of interest you will find it most rewarding to check the museums' websites and put museum visits on your programme in 2008.



 
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