Victorian family’s journey in spotlight

The team are well immersed in preparing objects and design elements for our next exhibition ‘House of Webb: A Victorian family’s journey to Ormondville’ set to open in late June. This exhibition focuses on the Webb family who immigrated to Ormondville, near Norsewood, in 1884. The exhibition will cover the family’s life in England before setting sail, the long sea journey to New Zealand, first impressions, settling in Ormondville and day-to-day life. Looking through the eyes of the Webbs provides an interesting glimpse of their new life in Central Hawke’s Bay.

Our educators have created a new school programme for senior students (years 7-13) utilising the content of this exhibition and looking at the challenges the Webb family faced when coming from England to settle in Hawke’s Bay. Students will explore letters, diaries, sketches and other primary source material, providing vivid insights into the family’s personal experiences as 19th century immigrants.

Other exhibitions in the pipeline include contemporary art shows to coincide with EAST at Hastings City Art Gallery. We are currently collaborating with two artists linked to Hawke’s Bay about possible displays for around August this year. We will share more information on this once a few details are finalised.

We’re also looking at replacing the ‘Time for Tea’ exhibition, which has proved hugely popular, with a similar style display. The new exhibition will focus on our silverware collection and, we hope, provide the same rich sense of objects and history. Silver, once a prized possession in most households, has become less fashionable over time. Like ‘Time for Tea’ we hope the new exhibition will provide something grandparents can explore with their mokopuna, sharing memories and stories.

We continually work on providing a balance in the exhibitions we display. We work hard to provide interest for both adults and children. Even though most of the feedback we’re getting suggests this is about right, it’s something we’ll always keep in mind when planning future displays and activities. We’ve had some feedback that there hasn’t been enough art on display lately, so we’re looking at what we can do in our schedule to address this. We continue to offer education programmes around art, with one of the current programmes looking at the seawall murals around the city. A guided walk taking in sixteen of these murals relates strongly to the secondary art curriculum but each session is also tailored to suit individual school outcomes.

No matter how big or small an institution is, getting everything in balance is an ongoing challenge – allowing for traditional museum visitor expectations, art lovers, Maori stories, multi-cultural stories, adults and children as well as considering accessibility, cultural safety and so on. We are however always working to find the best balance we can, and seeking to continually improve. Please do let us know how we’re doing.

27th April Article

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 28th April 2018



ANZACS to fore in shared stories memories

Museums are a place for sharing memories and stories, and throughout every exhibition stories of people, place and time are shared in a variety of ways. Our latest exhibitions are examples of this, with Nyree Dawn Porter sharing the story of Nyree’s rise to stardom, while Steadfast Steamers provides an insight into shipping history in Hawke’s Bay. Film can be a particularly powerful way to share personal stories and the Survivors’ Stories film accompanying the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake exhibition brings this to life – enabling visitors to hear first-hand accounts from survivors.

More film is on at MTG with the Children’s Film Festival ‘Screenies’ receiving really good comments from film-goers and we look forward to the festivals return next year. There’s still an opportunity to experience some children’s films, with today (Saturday) being the last day of the festival. Films today are; Hairy Maclary 10 Favourite Stories, Best of the Fest, Kids Behind the Camera 2, and feature length film At Eye Level. Go on to the MTG website, Screenies website or ring MTG for more information. Door sales are available.

If you haven’t visited the Century Theatre recently there’s another opportunity coming up with a special film to commemorate ANZAC Day this year. ANZAC Day is an important day to acknowledge those who have sacrificed, remember history, and work to ensure we try not to repeat the past. A day for sombre reflection, it is also a day to spend with, and appreciate, family and friends.

The film, simply titled ‘25 April’ shares the personal accounts of six individuals and their Gallipoli experience. Taken from letters, diaries and memoirs – a very personal sense of the emotions, experiences and feelings of these individuals is conveyed. This film is deliberately not trying to tell the story of the war or Gallipoli but rather give a real sense of how it felt to be in the midst of this moment in time.

Using a graphic novel-like animation, the film lifts the story out of the usual black and white historic film footage into a more current feel – making the emotions and the story even more relatable. Although animated this film is rated M due to the war content. ’25 April’ screens on ANZAC Day at 10am, 1pm and 3pm with entry by gold coin donation. We hope many of you will come in to see the film and let others know it’s on.

If you don’t have time to sit through a feature-length film we are sharing stories in another way, with story reading in the Drop-in-Zone between 10am and 4pm on ANZAC Day. Our wonderful volunteers will share a variety of books and stories with children and families.

We’ve been bustling with families for the first week of the school holidays and there’s a great vibe throughout the building so we hope you take the opportunity to come in and experience all the stories we have on offer.


Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 21st April 2018

School holidays challenge accepted

Keeping children entertained and engaged over school holidays can be a challenging task.

The children’s international film festival Screenies in the Century Theatre at MTG Hawke’s Bay is a great option these holidays. Spread over three days (19-21 April) there’s a variety of styles, genres and subject matters, with films for ages 3 to 17 and older. For the youngest viewers there’s something on each morning of the festival including Pingu and Hairy Maclary.

Something my children loved was the Thunderbirds and I’m sure this film on Saturday will appeal to many. Others may know The Changeover by Margaret Mahy – which has been turned into a film that plays on Thursday. There are some sessions (gold coin donation) on Friday and Saturday so don’t miss these. More information is available on the Screenies website or you can pick up a brochure at MTG.

There’s plenty more to see and do for children and families at the museum. We’re finding that the young (and young at heart) are loving the chance to try on ballet costumes in the Nyree Dawn Porter exhibition. Each outfit has been inspired by the costumes in Nyree’s ballet sketches. Made by the talented Karina Blogg, these can be put on like an apron and are easy to try over your clothing. There’s a ballet barre on hand so you can try out some of Nyree’s poses and see how you look in the large mirror.

The interactive wall of musical instruments in Hei Manu Tioriori continues to fascinate visitors, with children particularly enjoying this element of the exhibition. In Tenei Tonu there’s an amazing historic film with really talented performers showing their poi skills – with poi available in the gallery, everyone is invited to give it a go. Our Drop-in-Zone is up and running for the holidays with craft activities and books available. Once you’ve made your masterpiece you can frame it and place on the wall of art in the main foyer for everyone to see and enjoy.

Downstairs you can dress up in black and white Art Deco style and take your photo against a backdrop of historic Marine Parade, or look at the detailed ship models and fascinating ships in bottles in the Linkway Gallery. In the Century Foyer we have Play Hawke’s Bay, with photos from around the region and corresponding sounds which only activate when you hit the photo – something children usually love to do.

Napier Library at MTG also has a great range of activities for the holidays including; Wild Things at the Library – with stories, songs and craft, Build you own ‘Beast-friend’, an expanded Minecraft Club and the return of Books’n’Banter. Check the library website for full details.

So don’t forget to make MTG a must-do on your list of outings for children over the holidays. We love seeing children and families in the museum and hope they enjoy it as much as we do.

  • Screenies, Children’s International Film Festival, Century Theatre 19-21 April, Tickets available from Ticketek and door sales on the day
  • ANZAC Day film ‘25 April’, Century Theatre, 10am, 1pm and 3pm screenings. Rated M – war footage. Entry by gold coin.
  • Drop-in-Zone, books and activities, including making sea monsters to add to the undersea backdrop – running throughout the school holidays

14th April 2014

Image Caption: Ballet enthusiast Summer Campbell in Nyree Dawn Porter exhibition

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 14th April 2018

Taonga riri come out of storage

Ten taonga riri (weapons) have come out from storage and gone on display this week. Eight taiaha (long-handled weapons) and two tewhatewha (shorter-handed weapons) were selected by Michelle Lee, Curator Taonga Maori, for display in our Tenei Tonu gallery. The taonga chosen are representative of the nearly 200 taiaha and tewhatewha we hold in the collection. Ranging from pre-contact through to the 1940s these examples show a range of styles and materials.

Bringing treasures out from storage and putting them on display for the public to appreciate and enjoy is one of the more satisfying parts of museum work. Our staff love and care for the objects we hold, ensuring they are kept in good condition and preserved for future generations. A core part of our purpose is also sharing the collection with the current generation, and as always we need to find a balance between preservation and access.

These taiaha come from all over New Zealand and we’re not always able to identify their original iwi or hapu. Taiaha may have changed hands many times before they come to the museum so full histories are not always known. Historic museum practice was not focused on capturing full information about items, whereas today understanding and recording the background stories around objects is a standard part of the acquisition process.

One of the items on display is a beautiful whale bone taiaha. If you look closely at this taonga you will see one eye has been rimmed with red wax and the other with paua – making for an unusual finished look. Another taiaha has a noticeable bulge in the binding. We know from other museums (which have x-rayed similar taonga) that there can be other items held within this wrapping such as teeth or pounamu. We hope one day we may be able to find out what the taiaha we have here contain within their binding.

Some of these taonga have not been on display for over 100 years. We’re delighted and pleased to be able to share these with the community and visitors to Hawke’s Bay. Bringing these taonga out from storage and putting them on display has caught the attention of Maori media – making it onto Maori TV and several radio stations from Kaitaia through to Turanganui-a-kiwa, Gisborne. We’ve been taken by surprise with how far this story has spread and it’s a reminder that sometimes what seems like a routine part of what we do, can have implications and ripples that we can’t foresee.

This is not the only change Michelle has made to Tenei Tonu, with fishing nets, contemporary artwork and a digital installation added into this gallery – and more changes in the pipeline. We’re hoping that what we’ve done so far better reflects the richness of the collection and the stories of a people – Ngati Kahungunu.

Taiaha_7th April

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 07th April 2018