Museum holiday programme a big hit with the kids

The last week of the holidays have gone by in a whirl and it’s been fabulous to see the building full of children with their families. I love it when there are the sounds of people in the building talking, exploring and laughing – bringing the museum to life.

The success of our school holiday programmes and other activities has been very encouraging and we plan to add more programmes and extend their duration during school holidays in the New Year.

Children loved the Plastic Fantastic experience, with many coming early to go through Bottled Ocean 2118 beforehand to gain inspiration for their own creations.

Stop Motion Animation & Virtual Reality was a huge hit with children loving the experience of making their own digital creation. A programme aimed at an adult audience, Lace Tour, was greatly enjoyed by attendees with many, I’m sure, leaving inspired by the items they got to see up close.

It always surprises me how something as simple as a treasure hunt around MTG Hawke’s Bay captures young people but it certainly does.

We make sure this is updated regularly so that our repeat visitors get new experiences when they return.

This treasure hunt coupled with activities in many galleries, more video and digital technology, and dress up spots means children have a much more engaging experience when they visit the museum.

These activities are aimed at getting children looking closely and thinking about what’s on display while ensuring they have an enjoyable experience at the same time.

It’s not too late to bring in your children or mokopuna to experience the museum if you haven’t yet done so these holidays – or if you would like a second visit.

As we head towards Labour Weekend I’m aware that secondary students will be studying for exams and then the end of the year is almost upon us.

We still have plenty planned before the end of the year at MTG with three exhibition changes, programmed activities in the Century Theatre and elsewhere around the building, and maybe a couple of surprises as well.

The summer holidays are the busiest season for us with many cruise ships and visitors in town and, of course, the Art Deco Festival.

Even in the midst of all that, we always ensure there’s plenty for locals and especially children to see and do.

One of the exhibitions that will go on display before the end of the year, with a very local flavour, is The Architectural Legacy of J.A. Louis Hay – which will remain up for the 2019 Art Deco Festival.

This exhibition will feature original plans alongside digital copies of many more that can’t fit into the display.

In a region full of Louis Hay buildings it’s fitting that these plans are brought out for everyone to see. We hope many of you will come and enjoy that display over the summer.


Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 13 October 2018


Festivals galore, and a beaut’s coming up

There are lots of fabulous festivals that happen in Hawke’s Bay. One of my very favourites is the New Zealand International Film Festival, where I just love to get my fill of a wide variety of film styles, subjects and messages. This year’s festival was the most successful to date and I can’t wait until next year already. But I love all the festivals in Hawke’s Bay and one of the largest festivals, the Napier Art Deco Festival, launched their programme for 2019 just last week, with tickets now on sale.

Before you buy your deco tickets however, don’t forget it’s only a week until the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival kicks off. Starting on 15 October the festival launches with its first event in the Spiegeltent at Havelock North. As always there’s something in schedule for all tastes so, if you haven’t already, make sure you pick up a programme and get some tickets. This festival spreads across Napier, Hastings and Havelock North making it one of the most regional festivals on the calendar.

There are a number of events at MTG Hawke’s Bay in the visually and acoustically beautiful Century Theatre. Starting with ‘Emily Sun & Gamal Khamis’ performing a programme of Romantic and virtuosic music on violin and piano on 17 October at 7:30pm. Following this, there’s opera, comedy, inspiration, challenges and more on offer through the events at MTG. One of my favourite events is ‘White Night’, when the city of Napier comes alive for just one evening to celebrate arts and culture in a multitude of spaces throughout the CBD. Last year around 2,000 people came through the building and the place was humming. We’ll have plenty of staff on hand to guide you through the galleries and, with a bar in the main foyer and food on the forecourt, MTG is a great place to enjoy the atmosphere on the night. The library are joining in on the action and staying open late, with storytelling from 7-9pm and maybe a surprise activity as well.

Right now however it’s still school holidays and the museum has been buzzing with children and families throughout the building. People young and old are absolutely loving ‘Bottled Ocean 2118’ enjoying the experience of feeling immersed in the ocean, marvelling at the clever transformation of plastic bottles into an underwater scene and, hopefully, engaging in the conservation messages. There are many children and groups going through the museum partaking in the treasure hunt and enjoying the two dress up spots around the building. It’s not too late to book into our last holiday programmes – Stop Motion Animation & Virtual Reality or Plastic fantastic. Whatever you choose to do for the school holidays we hope you include a visit to the museum as part of your activities.

  • Chamber Music New Zealand presents Piers Lane, Hiroshi Ikematsu and NZSQ, Sunday 7 October, 5pm. Tickets are available from Ticketek
  • Stop Motion Animation & Virtual Reality, holiday programme. Tuesday, October 9, 10am-12pm. $20 – please register to secure a place.
  • Plastic fantastic, holiday programme upcyling bottles into artwork. Thursday, October 11, 10am-12pm. $10 – please register to secure a place.
  • Lace Tour, join our collections team to explore lace in the collection. Thursday, October 11, 11am. Please register to secure your place and receive venue location details. Spaces are limited. Free event
  • To register for any event please contact MTG Hawke’s Bay phone: 835 7781 email: info@com or visit MTG reception.

photorapher David Frost

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 6 October 2018

MTG: Hooray, hooray, it’s a Bay school holiday

Here we are in another school holidays already.As always, we’ve a range of exhibitions and activities to interest children at the museum.
Something that’s been a huge hit with our younger viewers is the Bottled Ocean 2118 exhibition by artist George Nuku. A number of school groups had the opportunity to participate in workshops with George, creating artwork from plastic bottles that then went on display in the exhibition. Many of these students returned on weekends with their parents and whānau to proudly show them the final product.Your children can experience this creative challenge with a school holiday workshop led by our talented educators, where participants turn bottles into their choice of a sea creature, pencil jar of bird feeder. We’ve had lots of great feedback from adults about the Bottled Ocean 2118 exhibition as well – so it’s certainly something all generations are enjoying.

Targeted for children, our ever popular activity trail has had a revamp for the holidays to include new galleries and displays, and the Drop-In-Zone will be operating again throughout the holidays. The Drop-In-Zone, for those who haven’t used it before, is a space where children and adults can do craft activities, read books and it’s also a place to relax and take a breather. We have our art display space back in the front foyer so artworks made in the Drop-In-Zone can be proudly put on display to share with other visitors.

These holidays we’re also offering four school holiday programmes. These fun two-hour activities let children explore their creativity with a range of options – painting kōwhaiwhai patterns, beginner printmaking, stop motion animation and virtual reality, or plastic fantastic (upcycling bottles into artwork). For the plastic fantastic programme we ask you to bring two clean plastic bottles, for all the other programmes materials are provided.

See a glimpse of Victorian life by visiting the House of Webb exhibition, which shares the stories of the Webb family’s journey from Stockingford, England, to Ormondville, Hawke’s Bay. Learn about the challenges of sea travel at that time, discover the rat in our animation of a painting, watch writing appear on the walls and see the way children amused themselves during that era.

Explore your theatrical and dance side in the Nyree Dawn Porter exhibition, with ballet costumes to try on, with a ballet barre and mirror to strike a pose. Visitors love this experience and it’s been wonderful seeing the range of people, regardless of age and gender, enjoying this fun activity.

If you or your child enjoy dress up and taking a photo don’t miss the black and white-themed Art Deco dress up spot downstairs by the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake gallery. With a variety of accessories, a backdrop of the Marine Parade and a period-style bench, you can certainly get into the spirit and take a photo memory home with you.

• Painting kōwhaiwhai patterns, holiday programme. Tuesday, October 2, 10am-12pm. $15 – please register to secure a place.

• Curators Talk, join Social History Curator Gail Pope for a talk on the House of Webb exhibition. Tuesday, October 2, 11am, meet in front foyer. Free event.

• Penmanship workshop, look at the styles of Spencer and Palmer and learn the basics of British Roundhand, taught during the 1800s. Tuesday, October 2 , 5.30pm-7.30pm. $30 (Friends of MG $25), materials provided.

• Printmaking for beginners, holiday programme. Thursday, October 4, 10am-12pm. $15 – please register to secure a place.

CMNZ Concert Trout, Piers Lane & Hiroshi Ikematsu, with members of the NZSQ programmed alongside Schubert and Rossini. CMNZ commissioned Ross Harris to write a meditation on the trout fishing near Turangi. Century Theatre, Sunday, October 7, 5pm. Tickets available from Ticketek.

• Stop Motion Animation & Virtual Reality, holiday programme. Tuesday, October 9, 10am-12pm. $20 – please register to secure a place.

• Plastic fantastic, holiday programme upcyling bottles into artwork. Thursday, October 11, 10am-12pm. $10 – please register to secure a place.

• Lace Tour, join our collections team to explore lace in the collection. Thursday, October 11, 11am. Please register to secure your place and receive venue location details. Spaces are limited. Free event

• To register for any event please contact MTG Hawke’s Bay phone: 835 7781 email: or visit MTG reception.


Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 29 September 2018

English town delights in finding pieces to puzzle in MTG exhibition

There’s a wealth of knowledge held within communities and we’re grateful for the generous way you share this knowledge. Time and time again when we’ve reached out to the community for help on a subject matter or an object, you’ve willingly provided the answer. An example is when Peter Rawstrome wrote in response to one of these columns featuring Len Willoughby’s magic collection. Peter kindly told us how the items were used and more about the magic clubs and activity in Hawke’s Bay. This information was then put on the object file and, when we started working on a future exhibition that will include Len’s magician’s box, we immediately contacted Peter. Peter is now working with Gail Pope, our Curator – Social History, providing more detail and information about the magic tricks in the box. So when you come to see an exhibition with Len’s magician’s box in it, a lot of the information that will sit alongside comes straight from Peter.

This exchange of information occurs in many different ways and across all sorts of communication channels, face-to-face, letters, public media, social media and so on. This year our collection team have been producing two Facebook posts per week – one from the general collections and one from the archives. These posts provide a great way to show the collection more broadly with the community, sharing the treasures and the stories we hold. Proving quite popular these posts are regularly liked, commented on and shared with others and we’re pleased people are enjoying this interchange.

The community of knowledge is no longer limited to those within a certain radius and now spreads far and wide with the use of social media. Recently Gail was contacted by Reverend Kate Massey from Stockingford. The church community there saw information about the House of Webb: a Victorian family’s journey to Ormondville exhibition online and were fascinated to learn what happened to the Webb family. Across the other side of the world the story of the Webb family ended with their departure to New Zealand, so it’s been exciting for that community to finally learn what happened to Reverend Webb and his family. Our archives and photographs from the Webb collection are helping to fill-in some gaps for that community both about the Webb family and also about life in Stockingford, with us holding a sketch of the vicarage (which is no longer in existence).

Museums and galleries have very talented and knowledgeable staff, however they cannot know everything about all the objects we hold on your behalf. Long gone are the days when curators and museums were put on a pedestal as people and places that know “the answer” and of course there are many truths in history depending on perspective. Modern museological practice is far more about building networks of knowledge with the community, near and far, to ensure as much knowledge is captured as possible for current and future generations. Sometimes people underestimate the knowledge they hold but all the many pieces create the bigger puzzle and we’re truly grateful for your generosity in sharing with us.

St Pauls Vicarage

Image Caption: Sketch of the now non-existent St Paul’s Vicarage, Stockingford

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 22 September 2018

Te reo embraced strongly – and not just by Māori

As we come to the end of te reo Māori language week I’ve been reflecting on how we’re progressing in this space. As a country it seems there’s been a collective shift over the last year around the use of Te Reo Māori, with New Zealand’s native language being used more frequently and comfortably on our television channels, national radio and elsewhere. I’m told there are more non-Māori than Māori signing up for te reo lessons around the country and that it’s now hard to book into classes due to popular demand. I look back a year ago when I was writing this column and I couldn’t include macrons as the paper didn’t have the ability to print these and now including macrons is completely normal. Now, using technology to good effect, a new app Kupu, has been launched where you take a photo and the app provides the te reo word for the image. For anyone interested in increasing their te reo vocabulary this is an easy and fun way to go. It really fells that, as a nation, we may have taken a big step forward – with of course many steps yet to go.

At MTG Hawke’s Bay we’re also looking at our use of te reo and seeking to increase how consistently and broadly we apply this. Our museum maps are now printed in both English and Māori and we have a range of product in our shop to support language, such as fridge magnets which teach a variety of words around body parts, colours, days of the week, etc, and a New Zealand map with te reo place names. We also stock the beautiful Mauri Ora book which shares Māori proverbs and wisdom in te reo and translated to English. Some of our staff have previously taken te reo classes and this week we broadened out to offer short introductory classes to the public. These classes, taken by our Curator- Māori, Te Hira Henderson, offer an easy introduction to the language and are suitable for anyone even if you have never tried Māori pronunciation before. The first class on Thursday was enjoyed by those who attended and the time just flew by! It’s not too late to try a class for yourself with the second class on this morning at 11:00 – just ring the museum to check there are still spaces available.

We’re in the final weekend of the film festival but there’s still time to catch some great movies. With six films on over the weekend there’s a variety of options available. Two of the films on my list are screening today, Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect and Puzzle, so I’ll definitely be heading in to catch at least one of those. An intriguing option is The World Is Yours  – a film described as “A French gangster comedy that zips along with all the bright, bouncy energy of a live-action Looney Tunes cartoon”.  Rounding out the festival on Sunday are two art films Kusama – Infinity and Petra along with Birds of Passage, a film which explores indigenous Colombian culture tackling the drug trade. We hope you’ve enjoyed the festival and managed to see your top picks.

  • Introduction to Māori language with Curator Māori Te Hira Henderson, today (Saturday 15 Sept) 11:00, meet in MTG front foyer, free event. Please ring 833 9925 to check spaces available.
  • 125th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand, two films – Gaylene Preston’s short film Hot Words & Bold Retorts and film Suffragettes set in London. Wednesday 19 September, Century Theatre – screenings at 2pm and 6pm. Koha appreciated
  • Lunchtime Walk & Talk (public art tour) with Curator Art Jess Mio. Thursday 20 September 12 – 12:45pm. Meet in MTG front foyer, free event, no bookings required.
  • Talk by award winning architect Andrew Patterson, Century Theatre, Thursday 20 September 6-7pm. Light refreshments provided after the talk. Free event.
  • Sound Bites, come and enjoy a series of 30-minute lunchtime recitals by students from Project Prima Volta, MTG Century Theatre, 24-28 September 12:15 – 12:45pm. Koha entry
  • Community stitch panel, Jo Dixey arrives to complete the final stage of this community projects, MTG front foyer, Thursday 27 September, all day from 9:30am.

Te Hira te reo

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 15 September 2018

Going on shopping expedition with museum visitors in mind

Last week I attended the Spring Gift Fair with Amanda Sye, Visitor Engagement Coordinator. This is an enormous trade fair open only to retailers. We went with a focus on looking for new suppliers and new product for the MTG Hawke’s Bay shop to ensure we have a rich and varied range of goods available.

While we already have some great product in our shop there’s always scope for more and, importantly, to ensure there’s always something new for repeat customers.

We have some key purchasing criteria that we try to meet whenever we can. Where possible we prefer New Zealand made and, while we cannot solely stock New Zealand product, where there are two comparable products in a similar price range we preference New Zealand made.

We have a similar approach to sustainability and where we can will offer sustainable product. Interestingly at the gift fair we saw some great sustainable product but it came wrapped in copious amounts of plastic, so there is still a way to go to get this right.

We already support a number of local makers and artisans and will continue to have high quality locally made product available where we can and when it meets other criteria.

A very important factor is considering our audiences and finding product they’re likely to buy. For locals we need to have a range of great books, higher quality gift items and fabulous jewellery. Friends of MTG enjoy a 10% discount in our shop so if you would like to enjoy a discount talk to our friendly customer service team about becoming a Friend.

We also need to think about tourists and look for things that are authentic, lightweight and can easily fit into a suitcase such as flat packed items, jewellery, slim books, pounamu, tea towels and so on. As well we need to have ‘trinkets’ or souvenirs, gift items they can take home to give to others. Locals also buy to send overseas so all the factors for tourists still apply. For all visitors price point is important and we need to aim to cater for all budget levels.

We’re hoping to add in a range to suit corporate clients and will be exploring this in the near future.

Specific things we were looking for at the gift fair included more jewellery options as this is an area we should be known for. We were also on the lookout for appropriate Māori product, which can be challenging as finding authentic but commercially priced product is extremely hard. Increasing the range of art product was another item on the list, specifically prints of works related to, or directly from, our collection. And finally we were hoping to find more product for children that is relevant to the museum.

Did we find everything we were looking for? No but we did find a lot of new products and new suppliers that were relevant. We’re planning some exciting changes to our shop so watch this space. What would you like to see in our shop?

  • New Zealand International Film Festival at MTG Century Theatre until 16 September. Tickets available at MTG now.
  • Introduction to Māori Language, join our Māori Curator Te Hira Henderson amongst the wonderful taonga in our Tēnei Tonu gallery for a free 30 minute Introduction to Māori Language session. Please register at or by ringing MTG as spaces are limited. Tēnei Tonu gallery, MTG 13 & 15 September, 11:00am
  • Celebrate 125 years of woman’s suffrage with two free films. Gaylene Prestons’ short film Hot Words & Bold Retorts focuses on New Zealand’s 1893 elections and campaign, followed by the 2015 Suffragettes film is set in 1912 London where a young working mother is galvanized into radical political activism. MTG Century Theatre, Wednesday 19 September 2pm and 6pm. Free event, no booking required.
  • Join Art Curator Jess Mio on a free lunch-time tour of public art in Napier. Please register at or by ringing MTG as spaces are limited. Tours start at MTG Hawke’s Bay. Thursday 20 September midday.

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 08 September 2018

NZ International Film Festival quick to pull crowd

The opening night of this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival was a huge success, with over 100 people turning up for the first screening. Disobedience was a riveting way to launch the festival and gives a sense of promise for a varied and captivating line up of films to explore throughout the festival.

Many films this year explore personal stories on a very human level – stories of love, self-discovery, liberation, incredulity, sadness and joy. One such film which has really captured my interest is Puzzle, which follows Agnes on a journey of self-discovery, breaking out of the small world she has known from a young age – finding her voice, power and liberation. This movie looks quirky and absolutely delightful and is one I’m definitely planning to see. Loveling is another journey of self-discovery and explores a dedicated mother of four sons with all the chaos and fun that brings, facing her first experience of empty-nest syndrome.

Bring your tissues to Aga, as I have it on good authority from a friend that this simply beautiful story about an elderly couple living in the Arctic tundra had her in tears. Another film Shoplifters follows a struggling family of five who take in an abused child with no way of knowing the journey they will embark on. This film uses a delicate hand to explore a number of themes including the very nature of what makes a family. A film that is already proving popular, based on ticket sales, is Three Identical Strangers which shares the simply incredible story of identical triplets separated at birth who find each other again as young adults. The movie clearly has hidden depths as further secrets and unbelievable twists follow.

New Zealand content is well represented this year. Maui’s Hook by Māori psychologist and filmmaker Paora Joseph bravely tackles the grim subject of suicide with a sensitive hand and a sobering touch. While Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen delivers a “richly personal portrait” exploring the life and work of Merata Mita who broke through many barriers as an indigenous filmmaker, a woman and an activist. Paul Callaghan: Dancing with Atoms looks at the life of renowned scientist, thinker and ‘renaissance man’ Paul Callaghan who continues to have an impact today. And we have the ever popular New Zealand’s Best 2018 showing the best-of short films.

For those who love a bit more action or thrills Burning is based on a love-triangle with a story that slowly gets darker and stranger, leading the viewer on a journey of suspense and surprise. The best-reviewed film at Cannes, Burning looks completely mesmerising. Beirut has been personally recommended to me by several people now. Described as a “cracking, old-fashioned spy thriller” this promises twists and turns coupled with fantastic acting by Jon Hamm and fellow cast members. I won’t be missing either of these films!

Of course you can never know where films in the film festival will take you – and that’s the beauty of it all.

  • Talk, walk and beach clean with curator Jess Mio, beginning in the Bottled Ocean 2118 Gloves and bags supplied. Free event, starting and ending at MTG Hawke’s Bay. Today – Saturday, 1 September, 10:00am.
  • New Zealand International Film Festival at MTG Century Theatre now on until 16 September. Tickets available at MTG now.


Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 01 September 2018