Exhibition Focus – Horse Transport in Across the Centreline


Image: Norm Mitchells parents in gig at Diamond hill, Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki Collection.

Horse Transport

Horses were brought to New Zealand by Europeans, which made the transportation of people and goods easier amongst the rugged landscape of Taranaki. The horse became the power behind Taranaki’s economic and agricultural development. Horses were so important that by the 1886 census Taranaki had the highest ratio of horse ownership in the country – 473 horses per 1000 people.


Image: Horse and cart outside Hawera’s Borough Chambers, Ref: 1/2-118132-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Horses were well-cared for, especially if they were important to a family’s livelihood. The more wealthy landowners had large stables with individual horse stalls.  In James Livingston’s stable there were feed boxes on one side holding six horses side-by-side.  On the other wall were padded racks for saddles and harnesses, and a shelf for currycombs and brushes.  Horses were groomed and harnesses kept immaculate with the leather well-oiled and brass of nickel-plated fittings polished to a high sheen.


Image: James McGregor Elmslie on ‘Redwing’, painting by Pru Hyland, 2015

Horse ownership in New Zealand reached its peak just before World War One. Many horses were shipped overseas to help the war effort, with few returning.  After the war the increase in motor vehicles saw the decline of the horse as Taranaki’s number one mode of transport. 

Video Credit: This film was produced by Anna Cottrell from AC Productions and was viewed by the attendees at the 2016 NZ Racing Hall of Fame induction event. Published on Feb 23, 2016

Passenger Transport

Travellers found road and weather conditions in Taranaki difficult and often dangerous. Most journeys could only be made by horseback or coach. Numerous rivers flowing off Mt Taranaki were treacherous, with steep descents and ascents to negotiate and crossings were especially hazardous after heavy rain. The wagons simply bogged down in the fast currents and passengers clung to the side rails as the horses strained to reach the safety of the opposite bank. Ferries on the larger rivers of Pātea, Whenuakura and Waitotara were used to transport passengers and goods across.


In 1870, Wellington businessmen, Shepherd and Young ran one of the first coach services in South Taranaki under the name of Cobb and Co. The journey took 8 hours to travel between Whanganui and Pātea, a lot of this being along the beaches and was tide dependent. It ran twice weekly with a £1 one-way fare and was later extended to Hāwera and New Plymouth. Their very first trip to New Plymouth was met by a guard of honour, and the two men were entertained at a banquet and received an illuminated address.   In October 1871 W H Shepherd was tragically killed on the beach near Kai Iwi when the stagecoach hit a boulder.


Image: Tom Kidd’s Eltham to Opunake coach, drawn by four horses, carrying passengers and luggage.

Accommodation houses were situated along coach routes, to suit horses as much as passengers. Many accommodation houses were very basic, often with narrow stretchers, rather than beds, packed tightly into small rooms. However in the larger towns, more comfortable accommodation could also be found such as Mr Quinlan’s hotel in Pātea. The bedrooms were large and airy, with first class furniture and fittings and every effort made to provide comfort for hotel customers.


For more about this exhibition view the catalogue below.


R18? What do the Film & Video Classifications mean?


What is a classification label?

As a responsible host, Aotea Utanganui exhibits a number of classic New Zealand films throughout the year as part of our cinema series.  By law we are required to adhere to the classification codes when screening films and documentaries that have been classified by the Chief Censor.  All films and documentaries have a classification symbol and usually a descriptive note indicating the type of content in a film or game that may be of concern to viewer – for example, whether the film contains violence or sex.

You will find the labels displayed:

  • In cinemas
  • On video and DVD cases
  • As part of film trailers and on advertising material such as posters and online listings
  • Sometimes magazines, books or music CDs may also have classification labels

Film labels are colour coded like a traffic light:

GREEN means anyone can view a film.
YELLOW means that anyone can view the film, but guidance from a parent or guardian is recommended, and some films may be more suitable for mature audiences.
RED means restricted. It is illegal to show or give the movie or game to anyone under the age stated on the label.

What do the labels mean?

Unrestricted labels

Please note that most unrestricted films are not classified by the Classification Office before release, but if you disagree with a film’s G, PG or M rating you should definitely let us know. For more information, see Inquiries and complaints about classification.

G label


Anyone can be shown or sold this. G films should have very low levels of things like frightening scenes. However, not all G level films are intended for family audiences and it is always a good idea to look at reviews and plot information before taking children to any film.

PG label


Films and games with a PG label can be sold, hired, or shown to anyone. The PG label means guidance from a parent or guardian is recommended for younger viewers. It is important to remember that PG films can be aimed at an adult audience and to be aware of the content of a film if you are taking children to it.

M label


Films and games with an M label can be sold, hired, or shown to anyone. Films with an M label are more suitable for mature audiences. When considering whether to let a child see an M-rated film, it’s a good idea to find out what the film is about – and to always remember to check the descriptive note.
The meaning of the M label

Restricted labels

Red means restricted: it is illegal to sell, hire, show or give a restricted (red labelled) film or game to anyone under the age shown on the label (unless an exception is stated on the label).

Restrictions apply in cinemas, at home and at school. Adults cannot give children permission to watch restricted films, or play restricted games. Various online platforms and services also use official classifications and these may be accompanied by parental controls or locks.

All films and games with red restricted labels have been classified by the Classification Office before release. If you disagree with a classification, please contact us and let us know. For more information, see Inquiries and complaints about classification.

R13 labelR15 labelR16 labelR18 label

Red means restricted
R13, R15, R16, R18

It is illegal to sell, hire, show or give a film or game with an age restricted label to anyone under the age specified. If something has one of these labels it can only be supplied to people of and over the age shown on the label. A parent, shop or cinema is breaking the law if they supply an age-restricted item to someone who is not legally allowed to access it. You will see these labels on films, games, DVDs and a few music recordings, magazines and books.
What does R13 mean?

RP13 labelRP16 label

RP13, RP16

The RP label means that the film or DVD can only be watched by someone under the age on the label if they are with a parent or guardian (an adult over 18). You will see these labels on films and DVDs. A parent, shop or cinema is breaking the law if they allow unaccompanied children to access these films.
What does RP mean?

R label


R means that there is a special restriction. Refer to the words on the right of the label for the full conditions.

For more information visit the Office of Film and Literature Classification Te Tari Whakarōpū Tukuata, Tuhituhinga here http://www.classificationoffice.govt.nz/find-ratings/new-zealands-classification-labels.html 

Book a Back-of-House Tour


Witness the magic which happens behind the scenes where collection items are catalogued and stored for safe access when curating museum exhibitions.  The Collections Assistant Luana Paamu and District Archivist Cameron S. Curd are available for back-of-house tours through the Livingston Baker Archive and social history storeroom by appointment.  Contact the museum at museum@stdc.govt.nz or 0800 111 323.


Exhibition Focus – McCarty and Hunger in Across the Centreline


Image: McCarty and Hunger workers standing outside shop c1900, reproduced with permission from McCarty and Hungers.

McCarty and Hunger

The business of McCarty and Hunger started in 1878.  Jack McCarty was a skilled farrier – “what he did not know about a horse’s foot was not worth knowing.”  Rudolf Hunger had previously worked for the Taranaki Ironsand Company in New Plymouth and in Patea he set a new standard in mechanical engineering.  They handled everything from ship repairs to motor vehicles and built all kinds of wagons and buggies.  McCarty and Hunger has changed with different trends in transport and continues to operate today as an engineering firm.




For more about this exhibition view the catalogue below.


Patea River Historic Walkway Booklet


This booklet is the publication of a series of signs on a walkway established along the Patea River. In an area steeped in history, these stories give a brief introduction to the industry, livelihood and background of the people who once lived here. This was a collaborative project between the South Taranaki District Museum (Aotea Utanganui) and Patea Community Development Trust.

View the booklet below.




Can You Help Us?


Can you help us identify the sitters in this photograph?

Taken on Mt Taranaki sometime in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s, these men and women were part of a climbing party and are all unidentified.  This is the only information we have.  If you recognise any of these people get in touch with the museum at museum@stdc.govt.nz or 0800 111 323.

The World’s most Green Museum


Go behind the scenes for an eye-opening look at how bright–and green–the future can be.  The California Academy of Sciences is the largest public LEED Platinum-rated building, and the greenest museum anywhere.

From famed architect Renzo Piano’s undulating Living Roof to the energy-efficient ambient lighting and cooling system, the Academy leads by example in their commitment to tread lightly upon the Earth.

Watch a video here of the construction of this museum.


Exhibition Focus – Future Transport & Sustainability in Across the Centreline


Future Transport

The 1960s television series The Jetsons imagined transportation as a futuristic utopia of elaborate robotic contraptions and whimsical inventions including the flying car. While this vision isn’t yet a reality, significant advances in transportation have occurred since the age of George Jetson.  Most modes of transport today generally use fossil fuels.  The reason for this is the ease of use and the existence of mature technologies harnessing this fuel source.  Fossil fuels represent a concentrated, relatively compact source of energy.  The drawbacks of such transportation media are that they are heavily polluting, and rely on limited energy sources.  Many ideas exist which try to either harness renewable forms of energy, use fossil fuel more efficiently or use human power, or some hybrid of these, to move people and things.

Sustainability & Transport


The greening of the automobile industry has begun in the 21st century with electric vehicles being offered to the consumer market.  The first company to successfully create a vehicle for long-range motoring was Tesla Motors, founded in Silicon Valley in 2003 by a group of engineers who wanted to prove that electric cars could be better than gasoline-powered cars. With instant torque, incredible power, and zero emissions, Tesla’s products would be cars without compromise. Each new generation would be increasingly affordable, helping the company work towards its mission: to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport. For instance the Tesla Motors Model ‘S’ (pictured) is a completely new breed of automobile powered by electricity and storing its power on batteries. The cost of a new Model ‘S’ is a steep $120,000 NZD, making this car one of the most expensive options available on the market today. 

Credits: www.teslamotors.com/about


Possible Modes of Future Transport


Personal rapid transit (PRT), also referred to as podcars, is a public transport mode featuring small automated vehicles operating on a network of specially built guideways.

A space elevator would permit vehicles to travel along the cable from Earth’s surface, directly into space or orbit, without the use of large rockets. An Earth-based space elevator would consist of a cable with one end attached to the surface near the equator and the other end in space beyond geostationary orbit (35,800 km altitude).



Caption: A space elevator is conceived as a cable fixed to the equator and reaching into space. A counterweight at the upper end keeps the center of mass well above geostationary orbit level. This produces enough upward centrifugal force from Earth’s rotation to fully counter the downward gravity, keeping the cable upright and taut. Climbers carry cargo up and down the cable.


 The TF-X™ is the practical realisation of the dream of countless visions of the future; it is designed to be the flying car for all of us. In order to achieve this long-sought-after vision, Terrafugia will focus the TF-X™ program with clear goals that enhance the safety, simplicity, and convenience of personal transportation. 


 SkyTran is a Personal Rapid Transit system first proposed by inventor Douglas Malewicki in 1990. The SkyTran is a lightweight two-passenger vehicle suspended from elevated passive magnetic levitation tracks. 

Caption: Artist’s rendering of the proposed Skytran design


 A backpack helicopter is a helicopter motor and rotor and controls assembly that can be strapped to a person’s back, so that they can walk about on the ground wearing it, and can use it to fly.  It uses a harness like a parachute harness and should have a strap between the legs (so that the pilot does not fall out of the harness during flight).  Some designs may use a ducted fan design to increase upward thrust.  Several inventors have tried to make backpack helicopters, with mixed results.

Caption: The Pentecost HX-1 Hoppi-Copter, a functional backpack helicopter.


Toyota I-Road

Toyota i-ROAD is a new form of transport consisting of a compact, all-electric, three-wheeled personal mobility vehicle (PMV) with a comfortable, enclosed two-seater cabin. New Toyota ‘Active Lean’ technology automatically balances the vehicle when cornering or travelling over stepped surfaces.  Zero emissions, near-silent EV powertrain gives a range of up to 30 miles, with recharging from a conventional power supply taking just three hours.


For more about this exhibition view the catalogue below.



How do you Preserve your Family Photographs?


How do you Preserve your Family Photographs? – In this video join Lochie Daddo and Caroline Whitley (The Australian National Maritime Museum’s Paper & Photographic Materials Conservator) as they offer professional tips of the trade in the preservation of your most important memories – your family photo album. Filmed on location in the small object store at the National Maritime Museum on Sydney Harbour.

Watch this video below courtesy of the Australian National Maritime Museum


Are Museums a Reflection of Us?


Are Museums a reflection of Us?  Do we see ourselves reflected in museums as we are or do we only see what we want to see?  Like the photo above suggests – do we only reflect what  we want to see when we look in the mirror?  How did museums begin and why do they showcase cultures and their heritage?  Museums have been evolving along with human history for over 2,000 years – but they weren’t always like the ones we visit today.  J. V. Maranto uncovers the evolution of museums, from the first museum in 530 BC (curated by a princess) to PT Barnum’s freak shows and beyond.  Video by J. V. Maranto, animation by Zedem Media.