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Long-Term Exhibition Opening At Te Papa

Thursday 20 April 2006

Blood Earth Fire – A New Long-Term Exhibition Opening At Te Papa

Te Papa’s first long-term exhibition since opening in 1998, Blood, Earth, Fire - Whângai, Whenua, Ahi Kâ: The Transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand takes you on an extraordinary journey of discovery through the changing landscape of New Zealand, and tells the dramatic story of how people have interacted with, and had an impact on, New Zealand’s land and resources over the last 800 years.

Opening on 29 April, the exhibition also explores what the land and its inhabitants looked like before humans came. It is rich with stories of how people have developed a sense of belonging here, and how people have come to love and care for this land they now call home.

People have transformed Aotearoa New Zealand from forests and wetlands to farms and cities. Along the way, thousands of new species have been introduced, and, sadly, many indigenous species have become extinct. For reasons of survival through to commercial enterprise, humans have had a significant impact on the natural resources of this land. However, this exhibition also celebrates the stories of the present and future that focus on the protection of endangered species, our unique flora and fauna, and the sustainability of this land.

“Blood, Earth, Fire presents an opportunity to learn about how this land once was, the significance of the land to Mäori, how our ancestors survived off the land, and worked the land. It’s through sharing stories, research, and knowledge that we can better understand our responsibilities as New Zealanders to ensure the sustainability of this land for future generations, and how we can carry this knowledge forward as individual kaitiaki (guardians) of Aotearoa, ” said Dr Seddon Bennington, Te Papa’s Chief Executive.

The exhibition is dramatic in style. People are confronted with the ‘alien’ species that have been introduced to this land over the last 800 years and that have been instrumental in the enormous changes that have taken place here.

They then move through the early New Zealand landscape and see how rapidly settlers have changed the land using fire and saws. People will see how resources from the natural environment have been used over the years. Forests give way to farms and settlements. This process of land clearance is explored through strong imagery. There is a mechanical saw interactive where people can find out the effort expended in felling the greatest of this land’s indigenous trees, the kauri. But this land clearance and modification came at a cost. Hear a haunting lament for the huia, along with a recreation of the call of this bird, at a memorial to the species that have become extinct since the arrival of humans.

After this, people can visit The Land that Was. In this part of the exhibition, they will hear how the dawn chorus might have sounded a thousand years ago while viewing recreations of stout-legged moa, the laughing owl, adzebills, and a host of other creatures as they would have appeared in the incredible communities that once thrived in this land. Te Papa’s research has informed how the moa would have looked, producing the most accurate models of a stout-legged moa family to-date.

After this, people can discover the extraordinary efforts to which people go to save species and environments. These people are kaitiaki (guardians) of the land. Stories are told about the ways in which people have protected land and made a positive impact on the environment, and are working toward the sustainability of this land for future generations. And kids can explore a shipping container to find non-desirable aliens!

The Mäori worldview is presented throughout the exhibition through beautiful taonga (treasures) that explore the relationships between humans and the whenua (land). Among the taonga you will see an ipu whenua (afterbirth container), rakau whakapapa (genealogy staff), a striking display of matau (fishing hooks and lures) and a dazzling interactive based on the maramataka (Mäori lunar calendar).

Blood, Earth, Fire culminates in a spectacular film, ‘My Place’, which introduces striking and beautiful places around the country where people will show you the place that is most important to them – their place!

An exciting line-up of free events and entertainment is planned to celebrate the opening weekend of Blood, Earth, Fire, including gumboot throwing, mini-zoo, weaving demonstrations, a wood-chopping display, and much more! (See attached programme.)

Blood, Earth, Fire - Whângai, Whenua, Ahi Kâ: The Transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand

Experience the dramatic transformation of Aotearoa New Zealand in this fascinating, hands–on exhibition for all the family.
Opening 29 April 2006.
Level 3. Free entry.


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