Museum working on Marineland exhibition

Marineland_Seal_28 October 2018Marineland’s star performer: Flash the sea lion. This local celebrity poses in his finery during an International Girl Guides camp at Hastings, 8 January 1971.

As we near the end of 2018, the museum team is working on finalising our future schedule of exhibition offerings.

A major social history exhibition with a current working title of, ‘Ring of Fire: the history of Marineland’ is planned to open in mid-2020. ‘Ring of Fire’ will explore the turbulent history of Marineland, a sea mammal park set up in 1964 on Marine Parade, Napier.

In 1964, Napier City Council Mayor, Peter Tait, commissioned an Auckland architectural firm to design an aquarium and dolphin pool for the site. By late January 1965, when the venue was complete, Frank Robson, a commercial fisherman, caught Marineland’s first common dolphin, Daphne, from the moana off Hawke’s Bay. The facility opened officially two days later: Robson subsequently became Marineland’s first dolphin trainer and director.

To fill the new tank, regular dolphin drives were undertaken. This traumatic experience caused many of the captured dolphins to die prematurely. The highly intelligent and social creatures found it difficult to thrive in captivity, and this, along with internal Marineland politics, proved controversial throughout the institution’s life.

Marineland was set-up as a tourist attraction with a showbiz atmosphere, personalising sea mammals to please the audience. Flash the sea lion had a repertoire of tricks including balancing on one of his flippers with a ball on his nose; Bluey the penguin, after rigorous lessons, learnt how to precariously balance on a moving skateboard. The all-time favourites of the show were the dolphins, twisting and somersaulting in the air, solo or in unison, with some leaping as high as five meters.

Over the years, many famous people received VIP treatment and were entertained with a special show put on for their benefit. During the 1970 Royal Tour, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were treated to an exhibition of a dolphin sensationally jumping through a ring of fire. Scruffy the penguin, dressed in suitable operatic attire of top hat, black tie and tails endeavoured to impress Russian soprano, Zara Dolukhanova with his antics. During the infamous Springbok Tour of 1981, Springbok rugby players, surrounded by the media, were photographed feeding performing dolphins.

By 1991, Marineland had grown from an exposed aquatic centre with three small pools to a major attraction with covered stands, underwater viewing and professional staging. Sea lions, leopard fur seals, penguins and otters soon joined common dolphins, the major attraction in earlier days. The last dolphin capture permit was issued in 1987: it became evident that if Marineland was to survive it had to change focus from an entertainment centre depending on performing dolphins, into a marine zoo and seabird sanctuary with emphasis on education.

During its long life, Marineland became one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist attractions: at its height, there were reportedly 220,000 visitors a year. However, there had also always been ethical opposition to holding sea mammals in small tanks and training these socially and mentally complex mammals to perform sometimes-dangerous tricks.  As worldwide opposition grew towards using marine mammals for entertainment, the increasingly powerful and well-organised conservation organisations forced Marineland and the Aquarium Board to confront Marineland’s fate: with the death of Kelly, the last surviving dolphin in September 2008, the doors were firmly closed to the public.

If you have objects, photographs, films, or stories about Marineland that you would be interested in contributing to the exhibition, please contact myself, Gail Pope (Curator – Social History) on 027 622 3289 or

Next week, Te Hira Henderson (Curator – Māori) will continue the theme of future exhibition ideas, followed thereafter by Jess Mio (Curator – Art).

What’s On:

  • Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival – Duck, Death & the Tulip. Today, Saturday 27 October 11am in the MTG Century Theatre. For more information and tickets –
  • Our Time for Tea: The Much-Loved Cuppa exhibition closes this weekend, last day to view it is tomorrow (Sunday 28 October)
  • NZ Institute of Architects Incorp. Gold Medal Lecture with Andrew Patterson. Thursday 1 November 6-7pm in the MTG Century Theatre. Free lecture with light refreshments available after the talk.


Gail Pope, Curator – Social History, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 27 October 2018


From the MTG: Remembering a great leader, Thérèse Angelo MNZM

Leadership comes in many forms – great people leaders, organisational leaders, inspiring leaders and so on. Leadership can also be shown by individuals at any level of an organisation, those who lead by example in how they treat others, maintain values, how they behave, how they follow, and how they help an organisation to achieve its goals, hold its head high and have a supportive culture.

Every now and then there’s also a leader who has a positive influence across an entire industry. Sadly, this week we lost one of those leaders, with Thérèse Angelo MNZM passing away on Monday. Thérèse was the Director of the Air Force Museum in Christchurch from 2002 – 2018. In her time in the role Thérèse not only led and directed the museum, she spread a value of support and nurture to other leaders and individuals in the industry throughout the country.

I first met Thérèse over ten years ago and she quickly became someone I looked to for advice. One of the many, many things I admired about Thérèse was that she didn’t expect anyone to be perfect, she saw people flaws and all but always, always believed in them. I last spoke to Thérèse about four weeks ago and will miss her terribly – she was a very special person and I feel lucky to have had the privilege of knowing her.

Thérèse went out of her way to encourage and support people, she never interfered but always provided valuable advice when requested and was there to lend a guiding and helping hand. She served as the Chair of the Museums Aotearoa Board for six years and was instrumental in helping museums and galleries affected by the Canterbury quake.

And the industry recognised and celebrated Thérèse’s work and spirit. She was awarded an Individual Achievement Award in 2010 acknowledging her work support and developing staff, in 2012 she received a special award for the support and leadership provided following the Canterbury quake. In 2015 Thérèse was made a Fellow of Museums Aotearoa, again acknowledging in particular the role she played in developing people within the sector.

I found a quote from Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield which I think fits Thérèse well. “Ultimately, leadership is not about glorious crowning acts. It’s about keeping your team focused on a goal and motivated to do their best to achieve it, especially when the stakes are high and the consequences really matter. It is about laying the groundwork for others’ success, and then standing back and letting them shine.” We all need great leaders and I will forever be thankful to Thérèse for being part of my life.

  • Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival – Finding My Way Home (Readers & Writers). Today, Saturday 20 October 10-11am in the MTG Century Theatre. For more information and tickets –
  • Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival – Between the Lines (Readers & Writers). Today, Saturday 20 October 12-1pm in the MTG Century Theatre. For more information and tickets –
  • Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival – The Shrieking Sisterhood (Readers & Writers). Today, Saturday 20 October 3-4pm in the MTG Century Theatre. For more information and tickets –
  • Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival – White Night. Tonight, Saturday 20 October 7–10pm. We’ll have the delicious Paella-A-Go-Go on our beautifully lit forecourt, Esk Valley wine, an interactive giant marble run in the front foyer and our curators will be on hand throughout the evening. Free entry
  • Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival – MAMiL (Remounted). Sunday 21 October 7.30-9pm & Monday 22 October 4-5.30pm in the MTG Century Theatre. For more information and tickets –
  • House of Webb Embroidery Tour. Tuesday 23 October 11am -12pm. Free public programme. This tour is currently full, to go on the waitlist please contact the MTG reception, email or phone 06 835 7781.
  • Havelock North High School Sleeping Giant Showcase. Wednesday 24 October, 7-10pm in the MTG Century Theatre. Original live performances by year 11-13 musicianship students. For more information and tickets please phone 06 877 8129
  • Jane Doe. Thursday 25 October, 7-8pm in the MTG Century Theatre. For more information and tickets –

Air Force Museum

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 20 October 2018

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