My favourite subject at school was History so I've always had a thing for museums and the Taupo Museum is a small but perfectly formed example of just how good these places can be. With their constantly changing exhibitions the folk at the museum showcase many different forms of art throughout the year. Currently the theme is Matariki, the Maori New Year, this is when the cluster of stars known as Pleiades are visible to the naked eye in the pre-dawn sky after the full moon from mid to late June each year. Once this cluster of stars can be seen then it’s time to thank nature for all that has been provided over the last twelve months and time to plan the new planting for Spring, as such it holds considerable significance to all Maori.
The exhibition is stunning, the artwork on display ranges from paintings to carvings, digital art to sculpture and many more. At only $5 per adult entry, free for locals upon proof of address, this makes it incredible value for money and there’s plenty more to see with the permanent exhibits.
Once through the doors you spy a fine example of a Whare Whakairo, a Maori meeting house, take off your shoes and go in to see the inside of this hand carved beauty, there are examples of traditional tools and weapons on display too. To the right is where you’ll find the ever changing exhibitions and to the left are the permanent displays. Here you find information on the Central North Islands volcanic nature, the once dominant timber industry and an interactive Tongariro Alpine Crossing map. Beyond this is a vintage 1950’s caravan with all original features and contents celebrating Kiwiana, a truly interactive display that you can climb inside and have good look around. Our two small people were most impressed with the displays in this area as well as being handed a clip board on entry with a variety if images to be found throughout the whole museum which kept their attention for the duration.
Next up is an area devoted to our local Iwi the Tuwharetoa. In here is a stunning Waka (Canoe) which was found in the bush at nearby Opepe in 1967, also on display are whale bone and greenstone carvings with paintings of tribal elders looking down from the walls. Take a right turn out of this gallery and you head outside to view the ‘Garden of Wellbeing’ a Gold Medal winning entry from the 2004 Chelsea Flower Show. This garden was transported back to Taupo and completed in 2006, it showcases our local flora in a truly unique setting.
So there you go, we had a fine morning with the small people learning a bit more about Maori Culture, gazing at unique artworks and generally getting involved with all the interactive elements on offer. I can heartily recommend having a look and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for the next exhibition when we can go and have another visit.
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