The gallery follows a timeline of Taranaki Maori history from the arrival
of the people from Hawaiki to the European immigrants and the fighting that
followed, and on into the twentieth century.
The stories have all been researched and written by Taranaki Maori people.
The treasures include a waka (canoe) of unknown origin, a kotiate
(whalebone weapon), a tokotoko (talking stick), a carved canoe prow, and a
funeral cloak, all associated with Maori leaders. Visitors can read the
stories of these taonga, clearly set out.
This area offers an interactive experience which explores the visual
history of Taranaki in particular and also New Zealand as a whole. The
well-known historian Ron Lambert, wrote the text for the area, and found it
a challenge to make the text brief enough and to express the concepts
involved in geology in plain English accessible to the visitors many of
whom have little knowledge of geology.
Ron Lambert advises visitors to go first to the glass forest and then move
anti- clockwise around the gallery. This takes viewers through the time
when New Zealand was part of Gwondana, and shows the plants that flourished
then and the animals. which are ancestors of the kiwi, tuatara, moa, weta
and frogs. Displays also feature the formation of the Taranaki basin and
the oil deposits, the mountains of the area and Paritutu and the Sugar Loaf
The final part of the circuit leads to the displays of contemporary flora
This area highlights the past and the present. Stories of the past include
such topics as cocksfooting, once a major industry on Banks Peninsula
and in Taranaki, and Charlie Maxwell who invented a hay bale loader. The
land wars, the work of early settlers, industry, everyday life,
immigration, farming and education are among other topics covered in the
gallery. Sound, film clips, light, touch screen computers all expand the
content and add to the interest of Taranaki Life.
To immerse yourself further in the atmosphere of Taranaki in the past visit
Richmond Cottage and Heritage Garden which recreate a typical colonial home
with a setting of garden and native bush. In the garden the settlers
planted flowers, vegetables, fruit trees and herbs for medicinal use.
Taranaki Research Centre
The archive collection formerly held by the library and the museum archive
are now held together in the Taranaki Research Centre.
Allow time to sit back and experience to the full the 12-minute multi-media
cinema, Taranaki Experience as it whirls you through the
Temporary exhibitions gallery
This offers another visual experience with changing international and New
Discover it! - an educational facility
In the basement of the old library, Discover it! offers young people a wide
range of displays and activities which are changed regularly to hold the
interest of regular young visitors. These include books, specimens of
minerals, fossils and machinery, a virtual forest linked to video
information, music videos, a virtual container crane to load ships at the
port, and a virtual dress-up wardrobe which shows on a screen the visitor
wearing the chosen garments.
New Plymouth's Visitor Information Centre
In keeping with the concept of many facilities under one roof the New
Plymouth Visitor Information Centre is now also sited in Puke Ariki. Here
you can make bookings for travel, accommodation and activities.
Vivid, the retail centre
This is close to the Information Centre and stocks Puke Ariki products,
good quality souvenirs and books.
The Daily News - a cafe and a news centre
Coffee and a range of foods will be served at the Daily News Cafe as you
explore the newspapers and magazines. Clocks in the cafe will show times in
different cities around the world. On one wall are three television
screens, one showing BBC news, another showing CNN news and a third with a
rotation of pictures which have recently appeared in The Daily News.
This restaurant offers casual dining with a cosmopolitan menu and extensive
wine list. The restaurant is on the ground floor of Puke Ariki on the
sea-side of the Taranaki Foyer. It is open seven days a week from 9am
until late. Diners are able to sit outside all year round on the balcony,
because a permanent structure screens diners and gas lamps will provide
warmth. As they enjoy their meal diners will be able to see the sea and
hear the surf and watch the Wind Wand beside the Coastal Walkway.
This is a family restaurant and children will be given fun pages and
pencils to take home.
Space problems solved by the new facility
The New Plymouth Library and the Taranaki Museum had been in shared
premises since 1865 - first in a building near their current site (the
Carnegie Building), then in the War Memorial Building (from 1960). Local
government in New Plymouth had looked at options for relieving the severe
space restrictions in both facilities since 1973.
The construction involved retrofitting the War Memorial Building (South
Wing) and linking it via an airbridge with a new building on Puke Ariki
Landing (North Wing).
The move to Puke Ariki has increased display space from about 78 square
metres in the old Taranaki Museum to 3200 square metres and there is a
greater area available for storing taonga and other precious objects. The
library too is larger and extends over four floors of the building.
Puke Ariki awards
Puke Ariki won Creative New Zealand's prestigious Creative Places Award for
2003. It was also the winner of the Strategic Arts Initiative category.
The prize for the Premier Places Award is a commissioning grant from
Creative New Zealand for a public artwork, to be chosen by the New Plymouth
For its Strategic Arts Initiatives category win, Puke Ariki won a specially
commissioned ceramic box made by leading New Zealand ceramic artist Merilyn
Wiseman and a certificate.
The Creative Places Award was established by Creative New Zealand in 1999
to recognise innovative, local authority arts initiatives and their
significant contribution to the social, economic, environmental and
cultural wellbeing of communities. Entries are judged by an independent
panel of judges, with both arts and local authority expertise.
Be sure to include Puke Ariki on your itinerary
Clearly repeat visits to Puke Ariki would be enriching, but if your
itinerary allows you only a short time, it is still worth visiting the
complex to gain some comprehension of the range of displays and facilities
and explore what attracts you most.