volunteering with collections

22.10.2014 Carol Portrait

Volunteers play an important role in museums and galleries and MTG Hawke’s Bay is fortunate to have a regular volunteer, Carol Dacey, who holds the honorary position, Keeper of Textiles. In the weeks prior to the opening of the current exhibition Travel in Style which features items from the wardrobe of New Zealand politician and style icon Whetu Tirikatene-Sullivan, Carol offered advice and assistance in mounting the garments. She was also involved with a number of projects at the time of the redevelopment and continues to provide invaluable assistance. I caught up recently with Carol to talk about her role at MTG Hawke’s Bay.

With so many organisations requiring volunteers, what appealed to you about volunteering at the museum?

I was told that the former Honorary Keeper of Textiles, Joan Maclaurin, was leaving and someone was needed who was able to sew and work with textiles. Having just retired and being a keen sewer, it fitted in well and I liked the idea of working in a museum environment. Since joining the museum I have learned many new skills and I thoroughly enjoy helping alongside the enthusiastic staff of the museum.

When did you first begin volunteering here? In 2006.

Who have you worked alongside at the museum?

I have helped in the Access/Collections and Design and Build teams and I have also worked with the Education team.

Prior to the redevelopment of the museum, what sort of projects were you involved with?

I made calico covers for the men’s suits that were hanging in racks. When the covers were made it was difficult returning them to the hanging racks because of the extra bulk from the fabric and because the space was so confined. I also made ‘sausages’ of different sizes from scraps of calico. These were put into the shoes to stop them from bending and to help prevent the leather cracking. I saw many shoes ranging from babies shoes, which had to have the sausages custom-made, to army boots which required stuffing with several sausages to hold them in shape.

I have re-covered chairs for exhibitions and before the museum closed, I helped a staff member check the accession numbers in the Textiles and Social History department, to make sure the items were correctly catalogued. This was an interesting task as I saw many items in the collection and as some of them were quite large and the accession numbers minute, it could be tricky to find where they were located.


When the museum closed in 2010 were you able to continue in your voluntary role?

My main job when the museum closed was to make different sized cushions to fit inside the packing boxes.

What did this involve?

During the closure there were two or three sewing and box-making ‘bees’ where staff and volunteers sewed and stitched the cushions and assembled the packing boxes. I washed and ironed many loads of 20 metre lengths of calico, and in my sitting room which became a sewing workshop, I cut out between 750 and 800 cushions. My husband Richard patiently avoided this room for the duration of the project! I measured and cut out the calico and Dacron and marked the cushions individually so although I sewed many of them myself, some could be easily handed on to other sewers.

Was there anything else that you helped with during this time?

Prior to the re-opening of the museum I helped to mount some of the mannequins for the opening exhibitions. This was a new experience for me and I really enjoyed it. The 1870’s wedding dress required about 5 different petticoats made of tulle and calico to recreate the full style of the skirt. I also mounted a small boy’s dress which was challenging because the neckline of the dress was much wider than the small size mannequin. To overcome this, I had to extend the shoulders of the mannequin in a life-like way to support the dress. I did this with calico, Dacron and conservation card and I also made a small petticoat to support the skirt.

At the museum’s off-site store, I helped the Curator of Archives during the scanning and cataloguing of the photographic collection for the online catalogue by sorting through the photographs and identifying any duplicates. I have also helped the Collections photographer mount clothing and jewellery for photography for record purposes. Some of these were the beautiful beaded dresses in the collection. I also sew accession labels into newly acquired garments.

What has been one of the more challenging tasks you have undertaken?

The most challenging to date was preparing and mounting the garments for the current exhibition ‘Travel in Style’.

Why was this challenging and what did it involve?

A lot of people think you just put the dress on the mannequin or stitch it to shape in some way. In reality you have to make the mannequin fit the dress, using calico, Dacron, card and a lot of ingenuity! Making and attaching legs to fit inside the trousers required a lot of thought and a certain amount of dexterity, partly because of the mannequin’s supporting pole! As ironing the garments is not permitted we used a steamer needing two people to operate it – one holding the steamer and the other manoeuvring a pad underneath the garment. I made a large and small pad shaped like a table tennis bat. This help to safely apply the right amount of pressure underneath the garment as it was steamed.

Carol also volunteers as a host in the museum’s upstairs galleries where she meets and chats with visitors and answers questions or offers background information about the setting and the exhibits.

Linda Macan, Collections Assistant



Whakawhanaungatanga: Building relationships

In 2012 MTG Hawke’s Bay received a letter from the Minister of Culture and Heritage stating that Ngāti Pāhauwera wished to establish a formal relationship with MTG Hawke’s Bay. We responded to confirm our willingness to do this.

In July this year, MTG staff were able to take that relationship a step further, meeting a group of about forty Ngāti Pāhauwera kaumatua kānohi ki te kānohi (face-to-face). After calling the group into the MTG’s Ahuriri collection store, our Kaumātua Piri Prentice spoke in welcome.

Six of our Collections Team members had brought out taonga connected to the Ngāti Pāhauwera rohe as well as a selection of the many taonga we care for that do not have known provenance.

Ngati Pahauwera visit3Ngāti Pāhauwera visitors admire taonga from the HBMT Ruawharo-Tā-ū-rangi collection.

Ngati Pahauwera visitThe MTG Collection Team show the visitors a korowai from the HBMT Ruawharo-Tā-ū-rangi collection.

IMG_3508MTG’s Gail Pope, with visitors and archive highlights from the HBMT Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi collection.

IMG_3507MTG’s Tryphena Cracknell, looks at toki from the HBMT Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi collection with visitors.

For MTG staff, opportunities such as these allow us to enable the relationship between whānau and taonga. As with almost all museums, there will never be enough space to display the entire collection and for the team, this is the way in which we are able to maintain accessibility to the collection, for whānau, hapū and marae groups. We finished off with morning tea and an open invitation to return with more of their whānau.


Tryphena Cracknell
Kaitiaki Taonga Māori
August 2014

Behind the scenes: Treasured Korowai

Last week we were delighted to have some special visitors to the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection. A group of avid raranga harakeke (flax weaving) enthusiasts, mostly students, had arranged to come in to research techniques and examine customary methods of toi raranga – the art of Māori weaving.

The manuhiri (visitors) were keen to view the tāniko and raranga harakeke items in the collection. Tāniko is a uniquely Māori variation of whatu (twining). The weavers counted and measured sections of work to establish how things were done back in the day. We can say for sure that the raranga experts of the past were incredible mathematicians and designers. We looked at a variety of woven harakeke items, including whāriki (floor coverings), kete (baskets) and kahu (cloaks).


Kete whakairo / Patterned bag, Gifted  by Miss M E Ramsden, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 60/144

We have some really special examples in our collection and it is always a privilege to “give them life” by bringing them out from their protective storage and sharing them with people who are truly excited to view them up close. All the books and photographs in the world do not give you the look, smell and “age” of the real thing.


Māori weavers developed tāniko by using coloured horizontal threads with the whatu technique. By weaving the colours together detailed geometric patterns can be created. Tāniko is a very complex technique. On cloaks tāniko is only used as a border, making use of the same threads as the cloak’s main body, so weavers plan the entire cloak before beginning to weave. Tāniko is also used to make pari (bodices), tīpare (headbands), tāpeka (sashes), tātua (belts), and taonga whakapaipai (jewellery).

39.28(1)39.28(4)39.28(3)Paepaeroa / Bordered cloak, gifted by Mrs M.C. Navin, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 39/28

Kia ora to our generous visitors for their enthusiasm and sharing of knowledge. Your visits make our job really enjoyable and worthwhile.

A snippet on our creative visitors:

Alyson Bullock (Kahungunu me Rangitāne ki Wairarapa)
and Karen Roberts (Whanganui) who are studying with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa for Te Maunga Kura Toi – Bachelor of Māori Visual Arts, majoring in raranga.

Debbie Maulder (Mohaka) and Wiremu Ngawaka (Ngāpuhi)
Both studying with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa for Kawai Raupapa Diploma in Māori Visual Arts majoring in raranga.

Ani McGuire (Heretaunga, Kohupatiki te marae) who is undertaking a weaving commission for Tainui.

Kahra, Jahana and Shaatchi Te Whaiti, Alyson’s daughter and mokopuna; the next generation of raranga enthusiasts.

Karen and Alyson travel to Te Kuiti each month for study, Debbie and Wiremu travel to Te Papaioea (Palmerston North) but all live either in Ahuriri (Napier) or Heretaunga (Hastings).

Ngā mihi


Dena Hale
Kaitiaki Taonga Māori
June 2014

Lithographs of ornithological beauty

At a recent art auction in Wellington, Napier’s Greening the Graveyard group found their attention drawn to three coloured lithographs of New Zealand native birds by printmaker, Thomas Ralph de Vere Gulliver. Knowing that these lithographs would be an appropriate and fitting acquisition for the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection, and that they would fit into the ethos of the group, they bid on, and won the prints.

The lithographs are the work of civil engineer Thomas Gulliver, a founding member of the Quoin Club, which was formed in 1916 in Auckland at the Mining Chambers in Mills Lane. Other founding members of this group included print makers such as Arnold Goodwin and Albert Hooper both of whom were commercial artists, Reuben Watts, a jeweller and the architect, William Gummer. The Quoin Club artists were at the forefront of New Zealand print making until the club dissolved in 1929. The main objective of the Quoin Club was to foster the arts and crafts movement and the subject matter reflected this by focusing on the realities of everyday life such as indigenous flora and fauna, contemporary city scenes, people at work and leisure and local landscapes. The three prints were from a portfolio of lithographs of native birds produced by the Quoin Club in 1919.

Thomas Gulliver’s interest and knowledge of printmaking led to his appointment as Honorary Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Auckland Art Gallery which was then a part the Auckland Public Library. In 1927 he organized the first temporary exhibition at the Gallery of historical and modern etchings. He was described in the New Zealand Herald at the time of his death, as being New Zealand’s leading authority of the graphic arts.

When viewing the lithographs I was struck by the difference in artistic style between Thomas Gulliver’s imagery and that of Johannes Keulemans, who illustrated Walter Buller’s comprehensive treatise on the ornithology of New Zealand titled A History of the Birds of New Zealand, 1873. On opening the pages of this beautiful leather bound first edition, which is in the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection, it is Walter Buller’s description of New Zealand’s native birds that exemplifies the craftsmanship and romanticism conveyed in Gulliver’s lithographs. Therefore, it is in Walter Buller’s words, that these lively and expressive birds are described below:2014.13.2Fantail, Thomas Gulliver, (b.1891 d.1933), gifted by Greening the Graveyard Group, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 2014/13/2

The pied fantail is ever flitting about with broadly expanded tail and perfecting all manner of fantastic evolutions, in its diligent pursuit of gnats and flies is one of the most pleasing and attractive objects in the New Zealand bush. It is very tame and familiar allowing a person to approach within a few feet of it without evincing any alarm. It is found generally in pairs and loves to frequent the wooded banks of mountain streams and rivulets, where it may be seen hovering over the surface of the water gathering gnats. Long may the Pied Fantail thrive and prosper in the face of cats, owls, naturalists, and the whole race of predators. For without it our woods would lack one of the prettiest attractions and our fauna its gentlest representatives.

2014.13.3Morepork, Thomas Gulliver, (b.1891 d.1933), collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 2014/13/3

Every New Zealand colonist is familiar with this little owl, under the name of morepork. It is strictly a nocturnal species, retiring by day to the dark recesses of the forest, or hiding in the crevices of the rocks and coming abroad soon after dusk to hunt for rats, mice, and the various kinds of moths and beetles that fly at night. The ordinary call of this owl at night consists of two notes uttered with vigor and having a fanciful resemblance to the words more-pork from which it derives its popular name. The flight of the bird is light, rapid and so noiseless that, I verily believe, it could surprise and capture a mouse at the very entrance to its burrow.

2014.13.1 Kingfisher, Thomas Gulliver, (b.1891 d.1933), gifted by Greening the Graveyard Group, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 2014/13/1 

In light rainy weather the Kingfisher is in his element in the meadows. The moisture brings out the grubs, earthworms and other small animal life to the surface. From his post of observing on the fence he drops nimbly to the ground, swallows his captive and remounts to his perch, repeating the operation every few minutes and for more than an hour at a time. When engaged in fishing, the kingfisher does not plunge into the streams but dips into it lightly as it skims the surface of the water or darts downwards from its post of observation on a rock or overhanging branch. It is moreover, one of those birds that seem instinctively to resort to the habitations of man … and seeks out the new home of the settler, and becomes the familiar companion of his solitude.

I suspect from the beauty of the prints that, like Buller, Thomas Gulliver had a great love for the richness and vitality of the birdlife that abide in New Zealand’s native forest.

The Napier Greening the Graveyard group makes regular donations to the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection using funds from taking tours around the historic Napier Cemetery and we are grateful for their support in acquiring these works for the collection.

Gail Pope
Curator of Archives
May 2014

A Mother’s Boon

To celebrate Mother’s Day this year we are focusing on places of rest for women in Hawke’s Bay.

The Hastings Municipal Women’s Rest was the first purpose built rest-room for women to be constructed in New Zealand.  Prior to the construction of this brand new amenity, public bathrooms were only available for men, while women were accommodated at department stores and shops. However, under the suggestion of the Hastings Mayor at the time, George Ebbett, a committee was set up to improve and cater for the needs of mothers and the growing number of businesswomen in the Hastings region. The Hastings Women’s rest was designed in a Californian Bungalow style and cost £2500 to construct, largely funded by private contributions. On 8 September 1921 the building was officially opened and almost 100,000 women used the facility over the course of the first year.

W4 (a)Women’s Rest Rooms, Hastings, Dave Williams (d.1972), photographer, gifted by H J Williams, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, W4(a)

W4 (b)Women’s Rest Rooms, Hastings, Dave Williams (d.1972), photographer, gifted by H J Williams, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, W4(a)

The Official Handbook of Hastings – for Tourist, Sportsman and Settler, 1929, stated that the purpose of the Hasting’s Women’s rest was:

“..to serve as a retiring place where young businesswomen may spend their lunch hour and of a place of rest to mothers or women visitors to Hastings. Here they might obtain light refreshments, mothers may attend to their children, warm their babies bottles, leave their parcels, write letters, read journals and attend to their toilet.”

By 1929 there were 170 visitors to the women’s rest daily, acting not only as a comfort stop for women but also as a safe and restful place for mothers and their children. The building still operates today with a few structural changes and is home to the Heretaunga Women’s Centre.

The Napier Women’s Rest was built in 1925 as a memorial to those who served in the First World War. In the aftermath of the 1931 Hawke’s Bay earthquake it served as a central support for the northern block of Tin Town with the corrugated iron buildings knitted on to its side. A plaque on the building states that it was destroyed by the earthquake and rebuilt in 1934 but historical photos show otherwise.

7866Memorial Square, Napier, Frank Duncan & Co, gifted by Mrs J Mayes, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, m98/22

3278 fTin Town, Napier, A B Hurst & Son, gifted by Dale Connelly, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 3278f

m2006.140.20(2)Architecture plan, suggestion for Mother’s Rest, Napier, James Augustus Louis Hay (b.1881, d.1948), gifted by Judd Fenwick Natusch Architects, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 6524

The visitor book for the Napier Women’s Rest from 1926-1945, which we hold in our collection, is full of comments such as: a Mother’s joy, a credit to Napier, a restful little spot, an everlasting memorial, an inspiration to other towns. We also hold in our collection the original architectural plans for this building,  titled ‘Mother’s Rest’ by architect Louis Hay who designed it in his signature domestic Prairie style. The Napier Women’s Rest has had various uses over time, mainly as a community centre, and is currently unoccupied as it requires earthquake strengthening.

The constructions of these women’s rest-rooms were an important part of New Zealand’s changing attitudes towards women and creating spaces specifically for them. More importantly over the years the local community has welcomed them and made use of the space to continue the vision as a place for women to rest.

Sarah Powell
Collection Assistant-Photography
May 2014

Helmet for a Pillow


The soldier, above all others, prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.

– Douglas MacArthur, 1962

Every once in a while there are certain individuals who cross our path and provide insight into areas of life that we would not normally venture. Anyone younger than 65 has more than likely never seen the direct effects of, or fought in a war. While our families can recall grandparents and great-grandparents that fought in either of the world wars, conflict in our recent history has been confined for the most part to our television screens. That is why it is important to keep the memories of those who served alive and undistorted; so that we may never forget that war really is hell.

Bernard 1Bernard Madden, photograph courtesy of Barbara Madden.

One of our latest donations, a large collection of letters between a serviceman and his family during the Second World War, has shone unique views onto military service and the home front in this tumultuous time. In April 1941, Bernard Madden, a 26 year-old driver for Amalgamated Couriers of Napier, left his parents and enlisted in the New Zealand armed forces. After undertaking three months basic training at Trentham, Bernard was quickly sent off to the Middle East as a gunner in the 7th Anti-Tank Regiment, 2 New Zealand Expeditionary Force where he served as a gunner and later a driver.

While overseas Bernard sent many letters to his parents in Napier.  They were read and then passed on to his extended family who lived throughout the Hawke’s Bay region as mail restrictions disallowed excessive postage. It becomes apparent reading through these letters that the first priority for Bernard was of the need to reassure the family at every possible opportunity that he was doing well. Surface-sent letters, which were bulkier and took longer to travel, were sent every week, but he did not hesitate to send faster-arriving, smaller airgraphs (at considerable personal expense) in between these weekly letters to reassure the family.

2013.65.10a (1) Letter from Bernard Madden, 20 September 1941, gifted by Barbara Madden, collection of Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust, Ruawharo Tā-ū-rangi, 2013/65/10

Bernard appears deeply involved with both his close and extended family. He at times questions if his father’s health is holding up and asks his mother, Louisa, if she is surviving the rationing period, frequently offering to send items home. When his brother Patrick was listed as missing in action as Axis forces advanced on Egypt in 1942, Bernard took it upon himself to question every soldier from Patrick’s unit about his brother’s fate. After Bernard learnt that he was taken prisoner, first to Italy and then to Germany, he made sure the family was kept up-to-date on his location and on the best way to send him his favourite tobacco. Sister Noeline and Cousin Lola were frequently reprimanded for ‘flirting’ with American soldiers based in New Zealand, while his young niece Moira appeared to be his favourite as he constantly asked about her schooling and after-school activities. The agony of being away from those he cared about shows through in Bernard’s writing, particularly as children in the family, some which he had never met,  grew up in the years he was away.

While Bernard did not see much front line action, he did see his fair share of hospital wards. The infection of a scratch on the leg early in the war was the start of a long list of maladies including influenza, intestinal problems and a significant hernia which, due to lifting heavy objects constantly, kept him in hospital and off the front lines for significant amounts of time. This had the unintended effect of allowing for long periods of recuperation time which, since permanent hospitals and respite camps were well behind the front lines, meant Bernard took the time to travel throughout the Middle East and Italy. Bernard’s letters tell of the large orchards scattered throughout Palestine, visiting Jewish communities and learning about their culture, visiting seaside resorts and tours of the countryside with other servicemen. Bernard was also in the right place at the right time during his Italian tour of duty; he writes of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in March 1944 and of arriving back at base minutes before a grand tour of Rome left for the capital.

By the time he had finished his service, Bernard Madden had served with 2 NZEF throughout its major operations in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Italy. In addition, he had managed to see the sites of Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Bernard left the armed forces after returning to Napier in August 1945 with six campaign medals, later settling in the suburb of Otahuhu, Auckland. His medical conditions, however, lingered, as the effects of war always do, and he was in and out of hospital until late the next year when he was officially discharged from the armed forces. Bernard passed away in Auckland aged 54 years and is survived by his wife Betty, seven children, 12 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. He is interred in the soldiers’ section of the Manukau Memorial Gardens.

All 150 of Bernard’s letters are now available on the MTG Hawke’s Bay online collection.

Evan Greensides
April 2014

Behind the Scenes by Gloria

Hello! I’m Gloria, an 18 year old student experiencing MTG for a week during April. I have put together a little photo essay on the backworkings of the museum from my perspective. Colour, shape, texture, pattern, our eyes pick up all these elements of a space subconsciously creating the overall mood or echo of a place. Light and airy, MTG Hawke’s Bay is a haven for beautiful and fine objects. Not only do our eyes observe the exhibitions but they also take in the surroundings which act as a canvas in which to display them. Check out the full photo essay over on MTG’s flickr page

Looking down the archive shelves

Historic photographs hanging

Wheels to drive the moveable shelving

Hidden histories

The stage is set


Look up!

Gloria Reid-Parisian
Highschool student
April 2014