Team celebrates award success

This week the team at MTG Hawke’s Bay are celebrating winning the Museums Aotearoa award for Exhibition Excellence – Taonga Māori, for our exhibition ‘He Manu Tīoriori: Songbirds’. On display until 22 July, the exhibition provides a glimpse into Ngāti Kahungunu’s rich musical talent, looking back at 100 years of singers, songwriters, kapa haka, jazz bands and more.

It takes many people to make exhibitions and this was no exception. Initially curated by Tryphena Cracknell, who formulated and developed the concept, it was then completed by Charles Ropitini. Determining themes, sections and objects was followed by the work of design, loan arrangements, object preparation and mount making. All these elements came together to make a great exhibition.

And once open, our customer service team, educators, volunteers and events staff come to the fore, bringing the experience to life for our visitors. Any success we have is truly a team effort and achievement.

This exhibition, like so many others, reminds us of the importance of understanding and knowing our heritage – which is often thought to be ‘behind’ us, distinct from present and future. And yet, how can the past be behind us, when it’s the only thing we can see, the sole source of all knowledge? It must instead be in front of us, as we move backwards into the unwritten, unseeable future.

In this way, the lives of ancestors are not really separate from the present, but are continually acting as guides as we create the future, helping us to avoid repeating erroneous ways and to follow the tried and true.

The MTG team celebrated once such guide this week, as 22 May marked the 150th birthday of Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia, of Te Rarawa. By the age of 25, Meri was a leading activist for the rights of all Māori and all women in Aotearoa. While an influential part of the suffragist movement that petitioned the colonial Government for women’s right to vote, she also argued in an impassioned speech in 1893 that women should be allowed to both vote for, and stand as members of, the Kotahitanga parliament. Referring to Māori appeals to Queen Victoria regarding the Crown’s failure to honour Te Tiriti of Waitangi, Meri pointed out that “there have been many male leaders who have petitioned the Queen concerning the many issues that affect us all, however, we have not yet been adequately compensated according to those petitions. […] Perhaps the Queen may listen to the petitions if they are presented by her Māori sisters, since she is a woman as well.”

As an advocate of mana wahine, Meri was countering not only the sexism but also the racism inherent in the colonial Government. While 125 years later, many are celebrating the anniversary of women winning the right to vote in the New Zealand Westminster system, the work of overcoming both racism and sexism remains far from over. I wonder how different things would be if Meri’s Pākehā sisters had supported her movement, just as she had supported theirs. What if all women had committed to upholding the self-determination and land rights of all Māori, as guaranteed by Te Tiriti? How much more flourishing and resilient would our communities be today? This is how Meri continues to guide us into the future. When we think about how to make a more just society, she shows the way forward: a holistic approach that leaves nothing and no one behind, for the prosperity of all.

Image_26 May 2018

Image caption: Meri Te Tai Mangakāhia (Te Rarawa), renowned for her speech to the Kotahitanga parliament, Waipatu marae, Heretaunga in 1893.

Photo courtesy of Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira.

Jess Mio – Art Curator, MTG Hawke’s Bay

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 26th May 2018


MTG keeps up its run as finalist in awards

For five years in a row MTG Hawke’s Bay has been a finalist in the Museums Aotearoa Awards. This year two exhibitions have made it into the finals, with a third getting a special mention from the judges. Museums Aotearoa is the national association for museums and art galleries in New Zealand so being a finalist (of three or four in each category) is a real honour.

Tuturu is a finalist for the art exhibition excellence award. Two ex-MTG staff members, Dena Bach and Tryphena Cracknell developed this exhibition in collaboration with Iwi Toi Kahungunu, led by Sandy Adsett. Showcasing Ngati Kahungunu artists, this display transformed our Linkway Gallery into a jewel-coloured passage as a backdrop to a range of stunning artworks. I note this week that Sandy has been given an honorary doctorate in fine art and congratulate him on this well-deserved recognition. Having already won awards for best installation and then the overall supreme award in the prestigious Resene Total Colour Awards, this exhibition has already captured national attention.

He Manu Tioriori: Songbirds celebrates and explores 100 years of Ngati Kahungunu’s love affair with music. The seeds of this exhibition began with Tryphena Cracknell and was finalised by Charles Ropitini. He Manu Tioriori is a finalist in the Taonga Maori exhibition category. A third exhibition, Yuki Kihara: Te Taenga Mai o Salome, did not make it into the finals but was given a special mention by the judges in the art category.

While Tuturu is no longer on display, the other two exhibitions are still available to view – Te Taenga Mai o Salome until 5 June and He Manu Tioriori until 22 July.

Having been a finalist (and occasional winner) every year for the past five years is a tremendous achievement. It certainly shows that the team here at MTG, both past and present, have the dedication, passion and talents to ensure we remain at the top of our field as a regional museum. A key feature of many of our projects that have made it as a finalist is the collaborative nature of their development. Working with others creates compelling exhibitions and programmes that are being noticed and recognised nationally.

The winners will be announced tomorrow, 20 May, at Christchurch Art Gallery and we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed to see if we win one of the categories. Regardless of whether we win or not, I’m really proud of the team at MTG and hope our community is too.

  • The Villani Piano Quartet shares an exciting programme of romantic music. Century Theatre, Sunday 20 May, 4:00pm. Tickets available from Ticketek
  • Chamber Music New Zealand present Bianca Andrew & Stroma. Century Theatre, Thursday 24 May, 7:30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek
  • The Music of Leonard Cohen, Century Theatre, Saturday 26 May, 7:30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek

Tuturu - Finalist for Exhibition Excellence - Art

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 19th May 2018

Diary an intimate look at brothers’ 1850’s life

Diaries provide the reader with a valuable window into the past. Usually written in plain language, the writer often gives lively, fresh and intimate details about life. So much can be glimpsed within the closely written pages: hopes, worries, hardships, loves, losses and more.

In the Museum’s archive is a diary plainly titled: “The Illustrated Diary or Life in the Bush New Zealand” by brothers Alfred and Frederick Chapman. During June to November 1854, Frederick Chapman kept this diary while his brother Alfred, whose non-de-plume was ‘Alfred Steelpen’, illustrated it with pen and ink sketches.

In 1851, Alfred Chapman, Joseph Rhodes and William Rhodes applied for and obtained 25,000 acres of land east of Otane, which they named Edenham. The three men stocked the station with 1000 sheep, and Alfred, with the help of his brother Frederick, broke in and managed the property

Frederick’s talents lay in animal husbandry and music. His main occupation was caring for and checking the whereabouts of the stock, which were continually disappearing because of the lack of fencing and density of bush. Wild pigs and dogs, not averse to killing newly born animals and weaker stock, presented an even greater problem. On one occasion nine sheep were found drowned in a creek which Frederick surmised had been ‘rushed in by a wild dog.’ Almost daily Frederick went hunting for pigs carrying ‘the young fat ones fit for meat’ back to the homestead while the older carcasses, used for dog meat, he retrieved at a later date. The warmth of Frederick’s words gives a telling picture of his close affinity with animals: including his faithful horse Nobs, the rooster he regretfully had to kill because ‘the pig bit it’, and in particular his dog Polly who died after giving birth. He was often called upon to act as a veterinary surgeon, having to bleed a ‘sheep bad with tictic’, and lancing the ‘swelled head & purse’ of a sheep from which ‘nearly a pint of liquor’ oozed.

His brother Alfred was an extremely talented artist, engineer and builder. He designed and constructed farm implements and tools such as sheep skin whips, pack saddles and dog kennels. Alfred’s engineering skills were evident in his design of a flour-mill: the building of it was a joint contribution but it was Alfred who thatched the roof and erected a ‘flag staff up by the mill house, with a wind teller on the top.’ The mill initially floundered because the sails were not large enough: undaunted by failure, Alfred merely enlarged and re-hemmed the sails and altered the plan of the mill by ‘putting the sails on the mill itself.

Music was an important part of the brother’s daily lives. Both were competent at playing wind instruments: Frederick the cornopean or cornet, and Alfred the flute.  Frederick expressed this love for music when he described the excitement of collecting his cornet from Ahuriri, and ‘was much delighted to find the cornopean was such a good one.’ Later that evening ‘he played a few tunes on the cornet for the first time.’ He would practice whenever he could: ‘milked the cows, & went after the sheep, took my cornopean with me to hear the echo on the hills.’

Reading the Chapman diary and admiring the sketches allow you to experience an intimate glimpse into the rich tapestry of Frederick and Alfred’s daily lives; how they lived together; how they spent their leisure hours and how they successfully managed and broke in the Edenham farm property.

  • NZ Sign Language Taster Classes – Saturday 12th May
    9:30am – children under 13 years
    11:00am – adults (13+)
    Spaces are limited to 30 people per class, please RSVP to
  • Sign-interpreted Floor Talk – Saturday 12th May – 1:00pm to 3:00pm
    • Suitable for families. Please meet in the MTG Main Foyer.
      Free poi-making workshop following the talk

Diary_12 May 2018

Gail Pope – Curator Social History, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 12th May 2018

Music, Sound, Video make museum come excitingly alive

Music, sound and video are one of the many ways we bring the museum to life. The beautifully acoustic Century Theatre plays a key role as a venue for live music, and currently Chamber Music New Zealand’s 2018 concert season in the theatre is well underway. There’s still an opportunity to experience the resonance and tone of beautifully-played music in the Century Theatre with four more performances in the concert season to go: 24 May, 24 June, 16 August and 7 October. I can highly recommend attending a performance if you can fit it into your calendar.

We also have live music outside the theatre, with a team of dedicated volunteers who come in and play our piano within the gallery spaces. Just last night someone told me they had visited the museum recently and particularly loved hearing the piano played as they looked through the displays.

Throughout the majority of our galleries we’ve some form of music or film. In Tenei Tonu performers from Kahurangi Maori Dance along with Rakei Ngaia welcome visitors to the gallery. This video, projected on a large scale, gives a real sense of experiencing a powhiri in person, with wero and waiata drawing you in.

I’m personally drawn to the beautiful and mesmerising video works in Yuki Kihara’s exhibition Te Taenga Mai O Salome. These works are not only visually stunning but speak to much deeper content. For example one work, simply featuring Yuki’s hands, shows the rhythm and build-up of the 2009 tsunami that hit Samoa.

The Survivors Stories film in the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake gallery continues to be a favourite with visitors – really helping to provide a sense of the experience through firsthand accounts. In Steadfast Steamers: Models of Hawke’s Bay Shipping there’s some fascinating historical footage from the early 20th century. Many visitors are telling us they love watching episodes from The Forsyte Saga in our Nyree Dawn Porter: From Local Stage to Global Stardom exhibition.

Hei Manu Tioriori: Songbirds is entirely about music, sound and video. This popular exhibition explores 100 years of Ngati Kahungunu’s love of music. With a number of soundtracks to listen to, memorabilia, instruments, images and video this exhibition is a rich treasure trove of music that invites you to explore.

We’re currently in the middle of Hearing Awareness week, 3 – 9 May and Sign Language Week is 7 – 13 May. The focus for Hearing Awareness week this year is noise-induced hearing loss. Exposure to prolonged loud noises damages our hearing – with no pain and often no conscious awareness. Power tools and loud music are key causes and the advice is to wear ear protection and limit exposure.

Today we’re hosting a gallery tour for Hawke’s Bay families of deaf children, who have specifically asked for a tour of Hei Manu Tioriori as the vibrations, video content and interactive musical instrument wall works well for these children. Next weekend on Saturday 12 May we have New Zealand Sign Language taster classes available for everyone to try a free 45 minute class.

There are opportunities for all to enjoy the sights and sounds within the museum.

  • New Zealand Sign Language Class, Saturday 12 May, 9:30am for children under 13, 11:00 for adults and children 13+. Spaces are limited – please book through MTG ph 835 7781
  • Chamber Music New Zealand present Bianca Andrew & Stroma, Thursday 24 May, 7:30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek
  • The Music of Leonard Cohen, Saturday 26 May, 7:30pm. Tickets available from Ticketek

photorapher David Frost

Laura Vodanovich – Director, MTG

Published in the Hawke’s Bay Today, 05th May 2018

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