Te Papa Museum

As it was raining and miserable on my first day in Wellington, it made sense to head for some indoor sightseeing.

Te Papa Map

I’d forgotten that it was school holidays, and when I eventually walked out of the rain and into Te Papa, I wasn’t prepared for the large crowd and I had thought that it was going to be a rather quiet museum trip, being a Thursday, but I think everyone had had the same idea and headed to the museum for the day!

Te Papa building

I’d gone to Te Papa specifically to see the Gallipoli exhibit, which has been on since April 2015 and will be available until April 2019.  There is free entry to the Gallipoli exhibit, and it marks the World War I centenary.


When I arrived at the exhibit, I was surprised to see a queue waiting to go in and a museum staff member controlling the number of people entering at a time.  I patiently waited in the queue and fully understood why they were doing this, once I got in.  Te Papa teamed up with Weta Workshop in creating this exhibit, which tells the story of the eight-month Gallipoli campaign through the eyes (and words) of eight New Zealanders.  These people have been turned into extraordinary larger-than-life figurines that are 2.4 times human size and have been crafted with minute detail, right down the to the pores in the skin, hairs on the arms, legs and faces, dirt, wounds and even blood, sweat and tears!

Te Papa larger than life

Make-up artist putting on finishing touches

Each figurine is a moment captured in time, and the audio story that accompanies each one is really moving and mades the hairs on neck stand on end.  There was one story in particular that really moved me and has stayed with me, and that was the story of Sister Lottie le Gallais.  Her brother was stationed in Gallipoli and she was on board the ship Maheno, heading for Gallipoli, and was awaiting news about her brother.

Te Papa Nurse

I don’t know why her story touched me more than the others.  I don’t know if it was because she was female, or if it was because she was a nurse and I’d recently received news from home that my grandmother had passed away.  She was a nurse, too.  But, for some reason, Lottie’s story moved me more than the stories of any of the others.

All of the Gallipoli stories are sad, they all have tragic endings, lives were lost, and families lost loved ones.  It was tragic and it was horrific, but Te Papa and Weta Workshop have really put on extraordinary exhibit.  Words and photos really don’t do the exhibit any justice.  I walked out of there with goosebumps and I felt completely different to how I’d felt before I’d gone into the exhibit earlier in the day.

The photos shown above are not my own.  I did not take any photos while in the exhibit, purely because flash photography is prohibited, as it will damage the displays (cause the paint to fade, etc.) and I didn’t want to try take photos in the dark.  The pictures shown above are from Te Papa’s website.

We did go back to Te Papa on Saturday, to explore the exhibits on the other levels, that included a full sized specimen of a colossal squid in “Mountains to Sea”, natural disaster in “Awesome Forces”, “Blood, Earth & Fire”, and “Rugby Legends: The Spirit of the Black Jersey”.  Some of these exhibits are temporary, while others are long-term.  To see what’s on display at Te Papa, visit their website for more info.




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