Violent history behind two of museum’s taonga

In the MTG Hawke’s Bay collection is a very plain, rather flat hei tiki. This seemingly unimposing taonga once belonged to Te Rauparaha (Ngati Hikairo and Ngati Toa) from Kawhia – his original hau kainga, place of home. Te Rauparaha subsequently became the chief of Ngati Toa, when their chief died. There is a carving of Te Rauparaha inside the Ngati Hikairo meeting house at Kawhia, although in his homeland Te Rauparaha, along with his Ngati Toa followers, is not held in high regard due to his warmongering ways.

This hei tiki was with Te Rauparaha when he raided the south island in the late 1820’s and early 1830’s, including Akaroa.

In the case of Akaroa, Te Rauparaha had the advantage of the musket against taiaha. He persuaded Captain John Stewart of the merchant brigg (ship) Elizabeth to transport him and his warriors from his home on Kaptiti Island to Akaroa to attack Ngai Tahu.

Arriving in Takapuneke Akaroa under the false pretence of trading flax for the Pakeha market, Captain Stewart invited local Ngai Tahu chief Te Tama i Haranui, also known as Te Maiharanui, his wife and their daughter on board ship, only to have Te Rauparaha imprison them. Te Tama i Haranui killed his daughter and cast her body overboard rather than let her be taken slave by Te Rauparaha.  With the Ngai Tahu chief imprisoned, Te Rauparaha and his warriors went ashore slaughtering in excess of 450 local Ngai Tahu men, women and children. He had previously massacred 1400 Ngai Tahu on a prior raid south.

Captain Stewart then offered the use of his large whaling pots on board the Elizabeth for Te Rauparaha to cook his victims and feast in celebration of his success.

Te Rauparaha took Te Tama i Haranui and his wife back to Kapiti Island where they were slowly tortured to death by Tiaia – the wife of a Ngati Toa chief, Te Pehi, who was killed in an earlier skirmish down south when Te Pehi attacked Ngai Tahu.

We also have in our collection a taiaha belonging to Kereopa. Kereopa received his name when baptised a Catholic in the 1840’s by Catholic missionary Father Eulogue Reignier who bestowed the biblical name Cleophas on him, which translates into Kereopa.

Kereopa was tried in Napier prison on December 1871 and convicted for the murder of Carl Volkner. He was hung by the Crown on 5 January 1872 and pardoned by the Crown in 2014 – albeit a bit late. Kereopa’s purpose was preaching the bible. He was himself a Pai Marire Hauhau leader. Pai Marire meaning peace and goodwill, and Hauhau the breath of God. This did not stop Kereopa from eating the eyes of Volkner however, earning him the name Kai Whatu, eater of eyes.

Kereopa was from Te Arawa Rangiwewehi, Rotorua. However the government, upon the arrest of Kereopa, duly confiscated the land of the Whakatohea people in Opotiki and also Tuhoe, despite Kereopa being totally unrelated and largely unknown to them. This was the general policy of Donald McClean at the time, under his designation as Chief Land Purchase Commissioner, with the aim to transfer land to Crown ownership.

Both these objects, the hei tiki and taiaha, represent a volatile past. Māori against Māori, Ngati Toa attacking Ngai Tahu, and the British Crown taking land from Māori for settlers. This matches the general attitude of Queen Victoria’s time toward the indigenous native globally – they and their possessions are interesting spectacles to be viewed and marvelled at, nothing more.

WHAT’S ON

  • Jazz Gala: Gregg Bissonette, Louis Dowdeswell & Glenn Walter in concert with the Rodger Fox Big Band. MTG Century Theatre, Sunday 2 June at 8pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.
  • Exhibition Talk. Join Social History Curator – Gail Pope for an insightful tour of House of Webb: A Victorian Family’s Journey to Ormondvilleand learn more about the family and their livesTuesday 4 June 11am-12pm. All welcome, meet in MTG foyer. Free event.
  • Exhibition Talk. Join Social History Curator – Gail Pope for an in-depth look at Silver: Heirlooms from the Collection. Tuesday 4 June12:30-1pm. All welcome, meet in MTG foyer. Free event.
  • Workshop: experience the art of poi making and waiata. Local artists and poi makers from KahurangiMāori Dance Theatre will guide you through the process of making your own poi, and teach a traditional waiata. MTG Education Suite, Saturday 8 June 10am-12pm. All welcome, please register on Eventfinda. Free event.

Pictured above: The hei tiki that belonged to Te Rauparaha (Ngati Hikairo and Ngati Toa) from Kawhia – Hei Tiki Pounamu / Neck Ornament, gifted by Mrs F I Macalister, Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 66/468 and the taiaha which belonged to Kereopa – Taiaha / Long Club, 19th Century, Waipare Collection, Collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 38/359

Written by Te Hira Henderson – curator of Taonga Māori, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 25 May 2019

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Museums help us understand ourselves

Today is International Museums Day – a perfect chance to visit a museum and explore how they can help us understand ourselves and our history.
When I was quite young I read an autobiographical book written by Helen Keller. It had a significant impact on me and I remember trying for weeks to imagine what it would be like being unable to see or hear, unable to communicate with people, to live in darkness and silence. I remember also the seemingly miraculous change that occurred once Helen was given the tools to communicate – earning a degree, becoming a writer, a lecturer and a political activist.
The human need to communicate and connect is strong and the importance of this is exemplified in the profound change once Helen Keller is finally able to communicate. It’s though communication that we learn about the world around us, where we fit in, what makes us different and the same as others.
This year’s theme for International Museum Day is Museums as Cultural Hubs: The Future of Tradition. “As institutions at the heart of society, museums have the power to establish dialogue between cultures, to build bridges for a peaceful world and to define a sustainable future.”
Understanding ourselves, our history and our place is an important first step that museums can help with. Showing and sharing stories of people and place, especially local regional stories, helps create a sense of connection to our past and present and can imagine our future. Equally important is the role museums play in helping people to understand each other – different cultures, backgrounds, ethnicity and experiences. Museums are uniquely placed to perform this role as we can act as a “safe places for unsafe ideas”, neutral ground in which to explore and try to understand other viewpoints and realities.
Many of our exhibitions provide a sense of the experiences of people from different times, cultures and places – giving a different point of view. House of Webb gives an insight into what it was like migrating to a new country, the reason why one family came and the marked difference between their original homeland and their new home in New Zealand. Project Banaba shares a very different reality – of having your home deliberately destroyed just so people in other parts of the world can maximise their agriculture. 5 Pākehā Painters presents a viewpoint of pākehā culture and Tēnei Tonu shares tangata whenua histories. While the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake provides an insight into the experiences of people during this devastating time for our region. All these examples share the common thread of telling stories and the viewpoints of various people or groups.
Today we’re showing a film that shares yet another reality. The World At Arm’s Length follows, Sven, who like Helen Keller is blind and deaf, as he walks the Camino de Santiago. This film exposes the raw emotions as Sven struggles with his goal, his challenges, and with those who are trying to support him.
It is our privilege and responsibility to share different experiences, different cultures and different worldviews with you. In doing so we all have the opportunity to broaden our minds, our understanding of the world and of each other – and from that platform we can surely find better ways to live and thrive together.

WHAT’S ON

  • Help us celebrate International Museums Day with the launch of the MTG Movie Club! Our first screening is – The World at Arm’s Length. This film show a heart wrenching search for man’s place in the world. Sven lacking both sight and hearing takes on the pilgrimage of Camino de Santiago. The World at Arm’s Length does not shy away from showing mankind at his most vulnerable, most hopeful, most excited, and most primal. MTG Century Theatre, today, Saturday 18 May, 2-3:30pm. $10 for adults. Free event for Friends of the Museum. Tickets available through Eventfinda.
  • Brodsky Quartet. Returning to New Zealand after their celebrated 2015 tour, this illustrious quartet offers two contrasting programmes that reflect the group’s unique versatility. MTG Century Theatre, 22 May 7.30–9.30pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.
  • Jazz Gala: Gregg Bissonette, Louis Dowdeswell & Glenn Walter. Featuring from the USA – Drummer Gregg Bissonette , Vocalists Glenn Walters and UK Trumpet Star Louis Dowdeswell. All in concert with the Rodger Fox Big Band. MTG Century Theatre, Sunday 2 June at 8pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.
  • Exhibition Talk. Join Social History Curator – Gail Pope for an insightful tour of House of Webb: A Victorian Family’s Journey to Ormondvilleand learn more about the family and their livesTuesday 4 June 11am-12pm. All welcome, meet in MTG foyer. Free event.
  • Exhibition Talk. Join Social History Curator – Gail Pope for an in-depth look at Silver: Heirlooms from the Collection. Tuesday 4 June 12:30-1pm. All welcome, meet in MTG foyer. Free event.

_DSC2177_19 May 2019
Image: A detail shot from the Project Banaba exhibition

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 18 May 2019

 

Proud to be finalists in the Museums Aotearoa awards

The very talented staff at MTG Hawke’s Bay have, once again, ensured that your museum is performing alongside the very best in the country. For the sixth year in a row the team have produced exhibitions and programmes that are finalists in the Museums Aotearoa awards – the pinnacle of our industry recognitions.

The hugely popular George Nuku: Bottled Ocean 2118 exhibition was enhanced by a comprehensive public programme. This included education workshops with the artist, public talks, beach clean-ups, school holiday programmes, film screenings and more.

The exhibition was interactive from its very inception – with a bottle collection from the public providing the materials for the new elements in the exhibition and over 1,700 school children of all ages participating in the creation and installation.

Programmes that involve our community in many different ways add greater depth and engagement in an exhibition. They allow people to get a better understanding of the artist or curator’s intent, additional knowledge that didn’t make it onto the labels and so much more. Activities allow people to explore their creativity, get actively involved, and gain a new skill or experience. Bottled Ocean 2118 really resonated with the community both in terms of the talent and artistry and also the important environmental message. The exhibition closed in March but you can still view a taste of the exhibition in a video on our website. George Nuku: Bottled Ocean 2118 is a finalist in the Most Innovative Public Programme category.

Finalist in the Exhibition Excellence: Social History category is House of Webb: a Victorian family’s journey to Ormondville. Following the experiences of the Webb family this exhibition documents their travels from Stockingford, England, on the ship voyage, their first experiences in New Zealand and finally settling into life in Ormondville.

Through the Webb family’s journals, artwork, clothing and more, this exhibition shares the personal, and sometimes tragic, experiences of the Webbs – giving the visitor a strong sense of the individuals and their stories. At the same time the exhibition also documents a period of immense change in local society and landscape, including the deforestation of Te Tapere-nui-a-Whātonga (Seventy Mile Bush). This exhibition gives a real glimpse of what it would have been like to take the long and arduous journey from England to a new land and a completely new way of life. We’re incredibly fortunate to have so much material from this one family in the collection, allowing the creation of such an object-rich and personal gallery experience.

We’ve received continuous great public feedback on House of Webb and that, coupled with being a finalist in the awards, means we’ve extended the period of display until November 2019. So you still have time to come in and see House of Webb and experience one of the country’s top exhibitions right here in Hawke’s Bay.

WHAT’S ON:

  • The Road That Wasn’t There. Award-winning company Trick of the Light Theatre present a story about a girl who followed a map off the edge of the world. Combining puppetry, shadow play and live music this is a must see for children 8+ as well as adventurous adults. MTG Century Theatre, Friday 10 May 1:30-2:30pm and Saturday 11 May 2-3pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.
  • Five Pākehā Painters exhibition talk. Join one of our team for a discussion of twelve landscape paintings from the museum collection, exploring what these artworks can tell us about Pākeha culture and their relationship with the land of Te Matau a Maui / Hawke’s Bay. Monday 13 May 12-1pm. All welcome, meet in MTG foyer. Free event.
  • Project Banaba exhibition talk. Join one of our team for a discussion on our latest exhibition, providing an insight into the history of Banaba, an island in the Pacific Ocean which was destroyed by phosphate mining during the 20th century. Thursday 16 May 12-1pm. All welcome, meet in MTG foyer. Free event.
  • Gisborne/Hawkes Bay Architecture Awards. The Gisborne/Hawkes Bay Branch of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and Resene invite you to the announcement of the 2019 Gisborne/Hawkes Bay Architecture Awards. All shortlisted projects will be celebrated at the event, with winners announced on the night. MTG Main Foyer, Friday 17 May 5.30-8pm. Free event – registration not required.
  • Kelvin Cruickshank. Join Kelvin as he reaches out to spirits and puts them in touch with those in the audience. MTG Century Theatre, 17 May 7-9:30pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.
  • The World at Arm’s Length. This film show a heart wrenching search for man’s place in the world. Sven lacking both sight and hearing takes on the pilgrimage of Camino de Santiago. The World at Arm’s Length does not shy away from showing mankind at his most vulnerable, most hopeful, most excited, and most primal. MTG Century Theatre, Saturday 18 May, 2-3:30pm. $10 for adults. Free event for Friends of the Museum. Tickets available through Eventfinda.
  • Brodsky Quartet. Returning to New Zealand after their celebrated 2015 tour, this illustrious quartet offers two contrasting programmes that reflect the group’s unique versatility. MTG Century Theatre, 22 May 7.30–9.30pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.

MTG WEBB8

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 11 May 2019

Whales huge earner for Bay

In the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust’s collection are several beautiful examples of scrimshaw – items closely associated with whale-men and sailors. Scrimshaw is the art of etching images on the by-products of whales such as teeth, bone or baleen. It became a popular pastime amongst crew to create images of nautical scenes and motifs, women, whales and whatever else was conjured up. Using simple ready-to-hand tools like sailing needles or knives to etch with, the design would then be coloured with ink or soot.

Scrimshanders also produced a variety of useful items that went beyond the purely decorative: in their hands, tooth and bone were transformed into tools, fashion accessories, game pieces and containers. These items were often sold to supplement sailors’ often-meager incomes.

The world-wide whaling industry evolved in the early 19th century due to a universal demand for whale oil and whalebone. Oil removed from whale blubber and refined was used as an illuminant in lamps and as candle wax. Whalebone was an important component in the production of buggy whips, parasol ribs and women’s corsets.

New Zealand focused on inshore whaling, beginning in the late 1820s and concentrated on capturing the Right whale. The whaling season ran from May to October and during this period beaches around whaling stations smelt of blubber being boiled down, mingled with the strong stench of decaying flesh.

Inshore whaling could be conducted from ships anchored in a bay or from a land base: crews killed mainly cows and calves as female whales would come inshore to give birth. This form of whaling was therefore responsible for its own demise, destroying the very means of its livelihood. By 1850, the number of Right whales was drastically reduced resulting in many stations being abandoned.

Hawke’s Bay was one of New Zealand’s major whaling regions. Production began in 1837 at Mahia and Waikokopu. By 1847 there were 17 five-oared boats operating out of Hawke’s Bay stations. As the area was populated with Māori, a relationship evolved as the whalers were reliant on Māori for food and men to crew the boats and operate the shore works. Many whalers and Māori entered into relationships, some resulting in marriage.

Irishman, William Morris was one of Hawke’s Bay’s predominant whalers. Initially he set up a whaling station on the Turanganui River, near Gisborne around 1835.

By 1845, he had established the Rangaiika Station at Cape Kidnappers – three boats operated from this area with a crew of between 20–26 men mainly from Tangoio. At some stage during his whaling career, Morris lost his right eye in a harpooning incident.

Morris was described in the Hawke’s Bay Herald as “an astute and honourable man who had an obstinate streak.” At Tangoio he made firm friends with William Colenso who wrote in 1849 that Morris was a “dear old neighbour” who he was “indebted to … for many acts of kindness.” A successful businessman, Morris combined whaling with other business interests. From 1860–1867 Morris held a bush licence for a store at Mahia and would leave family members in charge during the whaling season.

There were no laws controlling whaling and conflict continually arose between stations over the ownership of a whale. On 30 November 1855, William Morris along with six other whalers from the Mahia area produced a code of ethics that stated:

  1. As long as a man’s line is attached to a whale and he has command of it, it is his.
  2. If his harpoon remains in the fish and his boat is damaged or capsized, and the fish is finally captured by a second or third party, or the capsized boat’s crew saved by them, the whale is to be divided equally.
  3. If a whale is killed, anchored and buoyed, and afterwards drifts on shore, the man who killed the whale is the owner of it, even though the carcass is not on his ground.
  4. If, when among a school of whales, two lines cross, and either boat is placed in danger, he who is most in danger cuts his own line first.
  5. A drogue (a buoy at the end of a harpoon line) claims a dead whale.

Before signing the document, the group agreed that “it would be better that NO LIQUOR should come into Hawke’s Bay.”  Whalers from the area respected this document as fair and just and acted within its guidelines.

Etched in the corset busk (a rigid bone inserted at the front of a corset) shown above, the scrimshander has captured the exciting and adventurous nature of whaling. Today we would be horrified by such a sight – with international conventions and sanctions around whaling.

  • Thomas Heatherwick lecture. Join acclaimed British lecturer Ian Swankie for an inspiring presentation about the extraordinary British designer, Thomas Heatherwick who designed the spectacular Olympic Cauldron, the iconic new London bus and Cape Town’s stunning Museum of Contemporary African Art. MTG Century Theatre, Sunday 5 May, 3-4pm. This event has been made possible by The Arts Society Hawke’s Bay in partnership with MTG Hawke’s Bay. Free event but registration is required. Bookings available through Eventfinda
  • Exhibition Talk. Join Social History Curator – Gail Pope for an insightful tour of House of Webb: A Victorian Family’s Journey to Ormondville and learn more about the family and their lives. Tuesday 7 May 11am-12pm. All welcome, meet in MTG foyer. Free event.
  • Exhibition Talk. Join Social History Curator – Gail Pope for an indepth look at Silver: Heirlooms from the Collection. Tuesday 7 May 12:30-1pm. All welcome, meet in MTG foyer. Free event.
  • Exhibition Talk. Join Taonga Māori Curator – Te Hira Henderson as he shares diverse stories of local iwi Ngāti Kahungunu and their enduring connection to the land through the taonga on display in Tēnei Tonu. Thursday 9 May 12-1pm. All welcome, meet in MTG foyer. Free event.
  • The Road That Wasn’t There. Award-winning company Trick of the Light Theatre present a story about a girl who followed a map off the edge of the world. Combining puppetry, shadow play and live music this is a must see for children 8+ as well as adventurous adults. MTG Century Theatre, Friday 10 May 1:30-2:30pm and Saturday 11 May 2-3pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.
  • Exhibition Talk. Join one of our team for a discussion of twelve landscape paintings from the museum collection, exploring what these artworks can tell us about Pākeha culture and their relationship with the land of Te Matau a Maui / Hawke’s Bay. Monday 13 May 12-1pm. All welcome, meet in MTG foyer. Free event.
  • Kelvin Cruickshank. Join Kelvin as he reaches out to spirits and puts them in touch with those in the audience. MTG Century Theatre, 17 May 7-9:30pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.
  • The World at Arm’s Length. This film show a heart wrenching search for man’s place in the world. Sven lacking both sight and hearing takes on the pilgrimage of Camino de Santiago. The World at Arm’s Length does not shy away from showing mankind at his most vulnerable, most hopeful, most excited, and most primal. MTG Century Theatre, Saturday 18 May, 2-3:30pm. $10 for adults. Free event for Friends of the Museum. Tickets available through Ticketek.

Scrimshaw 84.367_4 May 2019

Image: Scrimshaw corset busk

Written by Gail Pope, MTG Curator Social History
Published in Hawke’s Bay Today 4 May 2019

 

 

Notre Dame a true global taonga

Watching Notre Dame, a building deeply steeped in history, ravaged by fire was a truly terrible sight and my heart goes out to the people of France. An entire city was galvanised in shock and grief – and the world watched on in sympathy.

Such is the power of both history and culture – Notre Dame is an icon of Paris and France, and a stronghold of centuries of history. Buildings, places and taonga such as these connect us and ground us with our past, with who we are and give pause and weight to where we are going.

Objects, places and buildings which have lived through history and seen wonderful and terrible times become infused with life, meaning, power, sorrow, joy and more. The Notre Dame fire is not just a sorrow for France but, as a truly international taonga, is a sorrow for us all.

Moments like these are a reminder of the significance of the treasures we care for on behalf of the people of Hawke’s Bay, and it’s the stories behind them that give them mana, meaning and connection.

Museums hold history in their collections, and they also hold the history of our profession, with changing trends and fashions in museum practice over the years. Once it was common practice to collect objects as fine examples of a taiaha or a vase for example without gathering their history and stories. While we will still, on rarer and rarer occasions, collect good ‘examples’ of a period without knowing the deeper history, this is no longer normal practice.

Today objects are mostly collected due to the relevance of their connection to a person, time, event or place. We want to gather as much information as possible about the objects in our collection so that we can tell rich and meaningful stories in our galleries – your stories and the stories of the people who came before.

One person who is trying to reconnect history is Rose Mohi, Chair of Te Rōpū Kaiawhina Taonga (our Māori Advisory Group), who is on a personal journey around the world to find and reconnect all the carvings from a meeting house Heretaunga III. This house was commissioned by Karaitiana Takamoana and carved by master carver Hoani Tāhu. The project stopped when Karaitiana died in 1879 and subsequently the house was never completed, with the carvings now scattered around the world. Why would Rose put so much time, energy and personal effort into such a task – because history matters, because significant objects connect people, because it is the right thing to do.

  • Napier Performing Arts Aria Contest. Aria preliminaries today, Saturday 20 April, followed by finals tomorrow, Easter Sunday 21 April. MTG Century Theatre, Saturday 20 April 6:30-10:30pm and Sunday 21 April 7:30 – 10:30pm. Door sales only
  • School Holiday Programme – Sculpture Fun. Make a fabulous sculpture from driftwood to hang in your house or garden. All materials provided, please wear old clothes. Wednesday 24 April, 10-11:30, suitable for ages 8-12. Spaces are limited. Bookings available through Eventfinda
  • School Holiday Programme – Animation & Greenscreen. Learn how to create an animation, based on an ANZAC story. Dress up in costumes and have your photo taken in a WWI scene. Bring a memory stick so you can take your digital work home. ANZAC Day Thursday 25 April, 10-11:30, suitable for ages 7-12. Spaces are limited. Bookings available through Eventfinda
  • The Big Bike Film Night. Adventure, love and friendship are all brought to you through the best cycling short films from around the world. There are stories to captivate, make you think, and inspire you to get out and ride. MTG Century Theatre, Saturday 27 April, 7-9:15pm. Tickets available through Trybooking or at MTG
  • Behind the Scenes – Archaeology Collections & the Story of Hawke’s Bay. Join us for a look at the archaeology collections and what they can tell us about the history of Hawke’s Bay. Not at MTG – meet at the steps of the British American Tobacco building, 1 Ossian Street, 10 minutes before the start of the tour. Thursday 2 May, 12-1pm. Spaces are limited. Bookings available through Eventfinda. Free event.
  • Thomas Heatherwick lecture. Join acclaimed British lecturer Ian Swankie for an inspiring presentation about the extraordinary British designer, Thomas Heatherwick who designed the spectacular Olympic Cauldron, the iconic new London bus and Cape Town’s stunning Museum of Contemporary African Art. MTG Century Theatre, Sunday 5 May, 3-4pm. This event has been made possible by The Arts Society Hawke’s Bay in partnership with MTG Hawke’s Bay. Free event but registration is required. Bookings available through Eventfinda

Notre Dame

Fire damage on the exterior of the cathedral with stained glass windows destroyed by the blaze. Photo / Getty
Image courtesy of Hawke’s Bay Today

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 20 April 2019

Laughing Buddha, a recent acquisition for MTG

One of MTG Hawke’s Bays most recent acquisitions is a jade sculpture of Budai (布袋), currently on display in our front foyer.  Also known as the Laughing Buddha, Budai was a Chinese monk named Qieci who had a happy nature, humorous personality and eccentric lifestyle. This particular sculpture of Budai was purchased in 1985 from Hong Kong by restaurateurs Alice Lim-Buchanan and Bryan Buchanan. Proudly displayed in their restaurant, Bucks Great Wall Restaurant, patrons were free to rub his belly to bring them good luck and extraordinary abundance.

Bucks Great Wall Restaurant was based in the T&G building (Temperance and General Mutual Life Assurance Society). This three-storied building, built in 1936, sits on Marine Parade opposite the Soundshell and is more commonly known as The Dome or sometimes The Clock Tower.

Bryan and Alice have now gifted their laughing Buddha to the museum and, as he will be in living memory for many locals, we have placed him on open display so you can come in and relive those memories by rubbing his stomach while he’s on display.

It’s through the generosity of the community that museums and galleries develop their collections, with a significant portion usually gifted directly by individuals such as Bryan and Alice. We receive many items from individuals who recognise the importance of collecting and keeping histories and stories for future generations. We’re incredibly grateful for that recognition and the overall generosity of spirit within the Hawke’s Bay community.

We also purchase a small number of collection items and the MTG Foundation works incredibly hard to raise funds and prudently manage finances to support the museum in purchasing key pieces to enhance the collection. Purchased items are generally, but not solely, artworks. The most recent example is a Nigel Brown work titled No 8 Wire.

Choosing what we do and don’t acquire for the collection is not always a simple task and it can require much robust debate among the acquisition committee. We cannot collect every single piece of history that is offered to us, as much as we might want to, and we have a collection strategy that helps guide our decision-making.

We’re always grateful to members of the community who offer items to us, even if we don’t ultimately choose to accept them. Sometimes donors are surprised at the things which might excite us that they hadn’t thought important. Sadly, we also sometimes have to say no to things a donor thinks is vital for the museum to keep and we try to manage this carefully and with respect. Our ultimate aim is to have a cohesive collection that allows us to tell key stories of the region alongside sharing inspiration through local, national and international artworks.

We love being offered items by the community and really appreciate those who are generous enough to make such an offer – community is, after all, what makes a museum.

  • It’s Love, Isn’t It? Poetry and chamber music with guitar – performed by Dame Kate Harcourt, Sir Jon Trimmer with music by Philip Norman performed by Matthew Marshall, Tessa Petersen and Heleen du Plessis. MTG Century Theatre, Monday 15 April, 7:30pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.
  • Julien Van Mellaerts and James Baillieu – prize winning baritone and pianist join together to explore a selection of song ranging from A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, to folksong O Waly Waly, to Cole Porter’s The Tale of the Oyster. MTG Century Theatre, Tuesday 16 April, 7:30pm. Tickets available through Ticketek.
  • School Holiday Programme – Screen Printing. Bring along your own cotton white T-shirt or another item and create a magnificent design. Tuesday 16 April, 10-12, suitable for ages eight and older. Cost includes materials. Spaces are limited. Bookings available through Eventfinda.
  • School Holiday Programme – Landscape Painting. Learn some simple techniques and get inspiration from artworks on display to create your own masterpiece. Thursday 18 April, 10-11:30, suitable for ages 8-12. Spaces are limited. Bookings available through Eventfinda.
  • Napier Performing Arts Aria Contest. Aria preliminaries on Saturday 20 April followed by finals on Easter Sunday 21 April. MTG Century Theatre, Saturday 20 April 6:30-10:30pm and Sunday 21 April 7:30 – 10:30pm. Door sales only
  • For a full list of school holiday programmes please visit our website http://www.mtghawkesbay.com

Budai_13 April 2019

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG
Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 13 April 2019

We’re now in the final month that The House of Webb, A Victorian family’s journey to Ormondville exhibition will be on display at MTG Hawke’s Bay.

This object and text rich exhibition is comprised almost entirely of Webb family memorabilia – the sheer volume and eclectic nature of which is astounding. The collection is mainly made up of material from Webb family members most of whom immigrated to New Zealand, but also includes letters the family wrote back home to England. The vast majority of the collection is archival: letters, diaries, sketches and photographs but there are also examples of china, furniture, clothing and textiles, paintings, and jewellery, along with everyday items. Collectively they hold a mixture of familial significance, aesthetic value, and utilitarian appeal. All this material eventually came to Elizabeth Webb, who subsequently gifted the collection to the museum.

Displayed in the exhibition are three closely related items belonging to William James Patterson, the brother of Reverend Webb’s wife Patty – these are a painting of William, the costume he wore when posing for the portrait, and a lock of his hair sealed in an envelope. On the envelope is written in beautiful script: “William’s first hair”. Poignantly, a lock of hair was described in Victorian times as “the most delicate and lasting of our materials and survives us like love and because it is so light it escapes the idea of death.” Sadly William died at the age of 13 years.

The ornate gold framed painting, dated 1830, shows William at 3 years old, seated in a child’s chair at a small table playing with his toys – a house, soldiers and farm animals. He is wearing a blue and white striped off-the-shoulder dress, embellished by ruffles and embroidery, socks and black boots and his hair resembles the silky curls of babyhood. In the cabinet next to the portrait, stands a child’s mannequin displaying the dress William is wearing in the painting.

Throughout history, clothing plays an integral role in the depiction of childhood – providing insights into changes in child-rearing theory and practice, gender roles, the position of children in society, and similarities and differences between children’s and adults’ clothing. Prior to the early 1800’s, clothing worn by infants and young children shared a distinctive common feature: their clothing lacked gender distinction and to their contemporaries, skirts or dresses were entirely appropriate for small children of any gender.

At birth, children wore long linen or cotton dresses with fitted bodices and full skirts that extended a foot or more beyond their feet. Once a child began crawling and later walking, they were ‘short coated’: the hemlines of the dresses were moved to ankle length or even shorter so the child had more freedom of movement. Worn underneath the costume was a set of stays, believed to support the back of the child and encourage ‘proper’ posture. The bodices of the dress often had leading strings or bands attached to the shoulders to help parents guide a young child learning to walk.

Little boys wore these outfits until they reached between four and seven years when they were ceremoniously ‘breeched’. Breeching meant a boy was mature enough to wear miniature versions of adult clothing: coats, vests, breeches and would have his hair cut for the first time.

The breeching ceremony symbolized that a boy was leaving childhood behind and beginning to take on adult roles and responsibilities. The child’s breeching age varied, depending on parental choice and the boy’s maturity, which was defined on how masculine he appeared and acted. After breeching, mothers seemed to have less influence on their sons: instead fathers would get much more involved in overseeing training and education. Boys essentially went from the petticoats of childhood directly into the adult clothing appropriate for their station in life.

It’s not every day that a museum holds a painting along with items represented in it. So please, take the opportunity to come in and have a final look at The House of Webb, A Victorian family’s journey to Ormondville exhibition and this amazing collection.

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Written by Gail Pope, MTG Curator Social History
Published in Hawke’s Bay Today 6 April 2019