Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Weather :

Timings : 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

Time Required : 1 - 2 hrs

Entry Fee : General Entry - No Entry Fee, Museum of Te Papa Tongarewa Twilight Express Tour - Starting from $13.79, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Guided Tour - Starting from $13.79, Temple - $27.58

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington Overview

Located on the Cable Street waterfront in Wellington, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is the massive National Museum of New Zealand. Inaugurated in 1998, the museum is an amalgamated space from National Art Gallery and the original National Museum sprawling over six floors. Colloquially known as Te Papa, which loosely translates to “Our Place”, the museum is thronged by more than 1.5 million people every year owing to its brilliant collection of treasures that include Maori artefacts, fossils and facts from natural history and environment etc. Spanning over five different sections - Art, History, Pacific, Māori, and Natural Environment, the museum also facilitates the availability of audio guides and tours. Other than being extremely innovative, informative and scholarly, the museum narrates the history of New Zealand in the most interactive and fun way possible, with significant help from the antiques, displays and ancient exhibits. The building stays open every single day of the year and conducts frequents exhibitions, workshops and interactive programmes.

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Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

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Etymology of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The name Te Papa Tongarewa loosely translates to ‘Container of Treasures’ and truly justifying its name, the museum is no doubt a treasure house of the history and artefacts of New Zealand. More accurately, it translates to ‘our container of treasured things and people that spring from mother earth here in New Zealand’.

History of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The current National Museum - Te Papa Tongarewa is constructed by combining the Colonial Museum and the National Art Gallery. The Colonial Museum was founded in 1865 by James Hector and was constructed on the Museum Street. However in the 1930s, the Colonial Museum was moved to Buckle Street where the National Art Gallery was also housed. On the other hand, National Art Gallery was opened for the public in 1936 and both these came together to be housed in the Dominion Museum Building when the Colonial Museum was moved.

Established in 1992 following the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa Act 1992, the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa was founded to celebrate the history and identity of New Zealand. It was finally inaugurated in 1998 by the then Prime Minister Jenny Shipley and a few other dignitaries. In the first five months of its opening, the place experienced a whopping tourist influx of 1 million people. And ever since then, the following years have experienced a similar number of visitors. In 2004, more space was devoted to the museum to accommodate its ever expanding schemes and plans. It has also been featured and documented in several movies including ‘Getting to Our Place’.

Structure of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Designed by Jasmax Architects and constructed by Fletcher Construction, Te Papa Tongarewa is well facilitated with basic amenities and several facilities. Located on the waterfront on Cable Street in Wellington, it sprawls over a humongous six floors of space on an area of 36000 sq. m., and is replete with cafes, eateries, gift shops, exhibitions and workshop and seminar halls etc. Besides the outdoor area has also been well groomed and polished, and there is the availability of several recreational features such as artificial caves, green spaces, wetlands and well dressed bushes and flower beds etc. Besides the building has been checked for earthquake resistance following the base isolation technique where the entire structure rests on lead, steel and rubber to reduce the effect of tremors.

Collections at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The museum has been divided into five sections- Art, History, Pacific, Māori, and Natural Environment. From the History section, the most notable collections include the dresses, textiles and fabrics used by the ancient people. Most of these date back to the sixteenth century. It also has the country’s post archive and the library boasts of more than 20,000 stamps and related objects. In the Pacific Collections, you can find the facts and features related to the Pacific Islands and the ocean with around 13,000 historic and contemporary items. Besides, non related libraries include the very famous herbarium that has 250000+ dried species of plants, 70000 species of New Zealand birds, in addition to several reptiles, mammals, amphibians etc. and not to forget the antique fossils.

However, the highlight of the museum is the rare colossal squid that is the largest specimen of the world, weighs around 495 kg and is around 4.2 m long and was brought here in 2007. There is also a cultural section that has photography exhibits, Maori taonga and other cultural stuff. Besides, you can also find several French and English furniture pieces, dating back to the seventeenth century. Some of the articles and products have also been archived which are stored in a separate building on Tory Street. This archived building is only open occasionally for researchers or other similar important jobs.

Library at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Te Aka Matua Library is situated on the fourth floor of the main museum building on the Cable Street. It has books, data and factual information especially on the history of New Zealand, Māori, natural history, art, photography and museum studies, and is a major source of reference resourcing and researching. It was earlier open for public use. However, today it only allows researchers by appointment between 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday.

Sections that are Must-Visit at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

  1. Mountains to Sea

    New Zealand boasts of a vibrant wildlife, diverse flora, fauna and coastline. This section exhibits and displays the rich and unique wildlife of the country among which, the most popular exhibit is the world’s largest rare Colossal Squid.
  2. Awesome Forces

    This section is dedicated to geology and portrays the ‘power of the Earth’ and its amazing landscape. Aside the big burly dinosaur sculptures, there is also an “Earthquake House” to give you the time of your life. It is known to be the most memorable part of the museum.
  3. Bush City

    Bush City is more like a recreational gaming zone which has a plethora of thrilling tasks scheduled for you. More than watching and learning, it believes in actions. The segment requires you to climb lava flow volcanoes (of course not real), dig for fossil fuels, cross a swing bridge, walk on swampy wetlands and explore the glowworm lit caves etc. This is the most sought after section of the building and it surely does make for a thrilling and a worthwhile experience.
  4. Blood, Earth, Fire

    In this section, you will get to learn about the history of New Zealand right from the very beginning when man set foot here. It focuses on the Maori culture and seeks helps from the native bird songs. The most exciting part of the section is that they use holograms to narrate these stories.
  5. Mana Whenua

    Mana Whenua is an exhibition that clearly focuses on the Maori culture and explores the ins and outs of the same in great detail and intricacy. The enormous Marae (traditional Maori Meeting House) is placed right in the heart of the space that boasts of several elaborate carvings. These carvings often tell the tales of the ancient tribesmen and their culture.
  6. Golden Days

    This is a compilation of the last 100 years of the rich history of New Zealand and how it has advanced and grown with respect to the classic kiwi items. There is a display of kiwi items from then to now which is an interesting browse.
  7. Signs of a Nation

    This section is dedicated to the Treaty of Waitangi, signed in 1840 by over 500 Maori chiefs. It shows the creation and the effect of the treaty in the relations between the Maoris and the Europeans.

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