Past Exhibitions

02.101 Cannon, King Edward Park, photo-F.G.Radcliff2002.101 Cannon, King Edward Park, photo-F. G. Radcliffe

The Wonder Gardens

Let’s go to the park and…

For generations this familiar invitation has sparked a mad scurrying to grab hats, boots, coats, dogs, balls and snacks.

What comes after the ‘and’ is largely unimportant, it’s the destination that matters – the public park, green space or botanic gardens just down your street. A wonderous and wonderful place of possibility, curiosity and imagination. That colourful, childhood memory factory that as adults we still get the fun of visiting and reconnecting with.

Come along! Come play, stroll, remember, relax, and seek out the magic of our locally-loved parks and gardens with us.

The exhibition will open May 18 and run till 18 November 2017.  This exhibition has been funded by the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC).



Wild Art: A Photographic Study by Pat Greenfield

A new exhibition featuring a solo show by Taranaki photographer Pat Greenfield.  Pat has also long been fascinated by buildings and their architectural shapes and the stories behind them, particularly if abandoned.  Enter the Patea Freezing Works.  Being too scared to enter the surviving buildings on her own in the past, she finally decided to “get on with it”.  While having lunch in her car, a little girl who lived close by came along on her tricycle.  They had a short conversation in which the girl referred to the buildings as “the Birdhouse”.

“I didn’t know what to expect.” Pat says.  “But what I really didn’t expect to see was all of the great art – wild art that adorned the walls of the wild art gallery.  Or, thanks to the loads of pigeons the little girl referred to, the Birdhouse Wild Art Gallery.  The buildings complemented the art and vice versa in a symbiotic dance where the one would have been the poorer without the other.  Thanks to the muted ambient light, I was able to record the unknown artists’ work sympathetically, and through the medium of photography, enable others to enjoy their work” – Pat Greenfield.

JULY – NOVEMBER 2017, Livingston Baker Archive & Reading Room   


No End in Sight: a Derek Parker Little Retrospective

No End in Sight is a retrospective of the works of Derek Parker Little opening in November this year.  Little’s art works are large-scale political and environmental statements about the impacts of exponential population growth, industrialisation, pollution, and the consumption of non-renewable resources.  No End in Sight will run from November 2016 to April 2017.                                 

“The art is a vehicle – a way to tell the message”, he says. “War is indicative that we have the wrong values. There is just endless repetition”. His paintings are stories. They are telling a tale. They’re not just paintings. The times that have given him the greatest pleasure are when he saw children gathered round one of his paintings arguing and discussing. That to him was “absolute bloody heaven.  I watched and watched. They were discussing bits and pieces about it, as I intended. Another I remember was a girl sitting on the ground by a painting and crying.”

“It’s all part of the story I want to tell the children. The majority of my work, I want to get it on general display, is aimed at the next generation. My biggest hope is my work will get into the curriculum at schools to show today’s generation we can’t go on doing what we are doing.” And not just regarding war, he was also concerned about the environment. “It’s become an obsession”, he says. “There is repetition. We go in complete circles all the time. The destruction of wildlife, forests, it’s all for money. We’ve lost our sense of value.   My biggest concern is there won’t be a world”. One painting suggests there is something wrong with the human race. “Do we have a faulty gene?” Parker Little writes.

The significant themes in Parker Little’s work include exponential human growth and population, food production, industrialisation, pollution, consumption of non-renewable resources, and the future. This exhibition also includes a participatory element by inviting the public to create object labels in response to his work.  These labels will then be displayed alongside Parker Little’s works thus creating a forum for an on-going discussion around the themes of his dynamic work. 

View the exhibition catalogue below.

Exhibition Curators, Cameron S. Curd & Luana Paamu

Image: No End in Sight, courtesy of the artist.


Go Deep Beneath the Ocean to Discover Uncharted Territory

This exhibition experience showcases the work the South Taranaki Reef Life Project in discovering and documenting the sub-tidal rocky reef communities found in the South Taranaki Bight. Initially   focusing on one target reef, approximately 11km offshore and 23 metres deep, a number of visits will be conducted throughout the year to document the ecological variance across seasons. A range of basic scientific methods will be employed by local community groups to survey the reef. It is hoped that this research effort will continue to expand and incorporate additional reefs in the future. Partners in the project are: South Taranaki Underwater Club, Hawera High School, Te Kaahui o Rauru and Patea Area School. This exhibition includes photographs and moving images taken documenting the subtidal South Taranaki Bight.

For more information visit their Facebook page below.


Season: December 2016 – April 2017 – Livingston Baker Archive & Reading Room


Educational Experience – The Patea Planting Trust

This educational experience showcases the work of the Pātea Planting Trust.  The trust was formed in 2013 with a vision of re-establishing a ribbon of native habitat along the walkway beside the river, from the town bridge to the sea.  It’s won strong support from the local community and beyond.  Factors in its success include strategic planning to prioritise planting areas, good research to find suitable plants, and the collaborative efforts of many volunteers, organisations, South Taranaki District Council, Kii Tahi Nursery, school and community groups.

An area that could easily have become a weedy wasteland is being restored to a health coastal habitat for native insects, birds and lizards.  More than 4,000 seedlings have been planted, creating an attractive recreational area.  The project has fostered a sense of community pride and involvement. 

Recipient of the Taranaki Regional Council Environmental Award 2016 for ‘Environmental action in the community’.  This educational experience includes detailed maps of the planted areas, photographs of the work being undertaken and moving images from the site.

Season: December 2016 – March 2017


Across the Centerline

Discover the Story of Transportation in South Taranaki during this exhibition experience opening May 2016.  Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki is mounting an exhibition exploring the history of transport in South Taranaki, from the pioneering days of the horse and cart, through to more modern modes of transport including the motorcycle. The exhibition will have photographs, audio/visual material, and social history items relating to transport selected to enhance the visual materials and help tell the story of how transportation has changed over the last 120+ years and how, in turn, the social life of our communities has been changed.

This exhibition has been funded by the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC).


Season: May – November 2016

Taranaki Arts Trail – 11 & 12 June          

The Taranaki Arts Trail is a region-wide exhibition showcasing various art forms and artists from South Taranaki. Curated by Michaela Stoneman, this intimate exhibition of four local artists will coincide with the third annual Taranaki Arts Trail, 11 & 12 June 2016. The artists include Lisa Walsh (Welcome Home (detail)), Leicester Cooper (Duplicité Lush pictured above), Gabrielle Belz (Kua eke ki te Taumata – Attain the heights) and Prue Hyland (White Horse). Three of the artists will be at the museum for sessions during the Arts Trail weekend to engage with Trail visitors, offering an insight into their inspiration and techniques. For more information about the Taranaki Arts Trail you can visit their website

Season: June 2016 – Livingston Baker Archive & Reading Room

Elemental: an exhibition by South Taranaki Artists

Elemental: an exhibition by South Taranaki Artists is opening next week in conjunction with the Taranaki Arts Trail and will be on throughout June. Artists featuring Lisa Walsh, Gabrielle Belz, Leicester Cooper and Prue Hyland. Curated by Michaela Stoneman.



Picture Start

Picture Start showcases unique moving images which have been preserved from the vaults of Aotea Utanganui’s heritage collection. These films include Livingston Baker’s Personal Collection, the Pātea TT Races, Port of Pātea (1871-1959), the William McKee Collection, Pātea School Footage (1971),  and the Tiroa Loading Cheese in Pātea Port.

Content for this exhibition has been transferred by Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision and Park Road Post Production Ltd, Wellington.

 What is Film Preservation?

Film preservation, or film restoration, describes a series of ongoing efforts among film historians,   archivists, museums, cinematheques, and non-profit organisations to rescue decaying film stock and preserve the images which they contain. In the widest sense, preservation nowadays assures that a movie will continue to exist in as close to its original form as possible.

For many years the term ‘preservation’ was synonymous with ‘duplication’ of film. The goal of a preservationist is to create a durable copy without any significant loss of quality. In more modern terms, film preservation now includes the concepts of handling, duplication, storage, and access. The archivist seeks to protect the film and share the content with the public.

By the 1980s, it was becoming apparent that the collections of motion picture heritage were at risk of becoming lost. Not only was the preservation of nitrate film an ongoing problem, but the discovery that safety film, used as a replacement for the more volatile nitrate stock, was beginning to be affected by a unique form of decay known as “vinegar syndrome”, and colour film manufactured, in particular, by Eastman Kodak, was found to be at risk of fading. At that time, the best known solution was to duplicate the original film onto a more secure medium.


 90 percent of all American silent films made before 1929 and 50 percent of American sound films made before 1950 are lost films.


Although institutional practices of film preservation date back to the 1930s, the field received an official status only in 1980, when UNESCO recognised ‘moving images’ as an integral part of the world’s cultural heritage.

Curated by Cameron S. Curd                        



001024 The three Plunket babies

Voyage into the Heartland: Photographic Works from the Batten Collection

New Zealanders have always had a desire to travel and discover the undiscoverable. From the 1957 journey to Antarctica by adventurer Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008), to Turi’s voyage from Rangiatea to New Zealand over 700 years ago; we have voyaging within our veins.

During the early 1930’s the Batten family set out across the North Island of New Zealand with their camera and a horse called Judy to photograph recollection of the central region of the Land of the Long White Cloud. Their perspective is a particular one carrying us on a journey into early 20th century life in New Zealand with practical but sensitive objectivity. While their landscape images have a sense of objectivity and bleak isolation, their portraiture forms an affectionate bond between the photographers and subjects. This familiarity creates an unburdened, carefree outlook from each sitter they photograph. These experiences stretched out their understanding of the world around them and ultimately had a great effect on the family.

 Voyage into the Heartland showcases the Batten Collection, a unique photographic anthology exposing original landscapes of the 1930s unseen before in New Zealand. These landscape images speak of a time where landscape photography was in its infancy and still forging its own identity. This collection focuses both on powerful landscapes and intimate portraits achieving a great aesthetic approach to their photography where every image engages us, allowing us to immerse ourselves in their world.

Curated by Cameron S. Curd



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Return to Sender

Postcards, as we know them today, have taken a considerable amount of time to develop. First restricted by size, colour, and other regulations, postcard production blossomed in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Postcards were popular because they were a quick and easy way for individuals to communicate with each other.  Today deltiology, the collection of postcards, is a popular hobby. The following is a brief general history of the postcard in the United States.

The dates for each time period are not concrete and different sources contain slightly variable dates. It is also important to keep in mind that postcard types produced in one period could also be produced in another, but were simply not produced in the same volume as other card types of the period. Modern photochrom-style postcards first appeared in 1939 when the Union Oil Company  began to carry them in their western service stations.  Production of the postcards slowed during World War II because of supply shortages, but after the war, they dominated the postcard market.

The photochrom postcards are in color, and their images closely resemble photographs. Photochrom postcards are the ones most familiar to us today. In the 1990s the advent of e-cards and email started the decline of the postcard’s popularity. Today postcards are typically purchased as souvenirs or token keepsakes, rather than a method of communication.

These postcards from the collection of Aotea Utanganui are divided into topics including romance and engagements, comedy, glamour portraits, sportsmen, cute kids and cute cats – long before the Internet and YouTube made them viral sensations.

Exhibition Curator, Cameron S. Curd

Season: July 2015-January 2016 – Livingston Baker Archive & Reading Room



Eltham and Beyond: Showcasing Eltham and its Pioneering Land Usage                            

Eltham and Beyond: Showcasing Eltham and its Land Usage at Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki in Patea is a new exhibition showcasing the various land uses and pioneering discoveries which occurred in the South Taranaki township of Eltham.  From Chew Chong’s discovery and commercialisation of fungus into a roaring trade, to businessman turned politician Charles Anderson Wilkinson, to the modern battle against predators with the establishment of the Lake Rotokare Scenic Reserve in 2004; Eltham has often shown a strong entrepreneurial spirit.  

The exhibition includes extensive photography, ephemera, moving images and artifacts from the collections of Aotea Utanganui, Puke Ariki, Alexander Turnbull Library, Te Papa Tongarewa, TVNZ Licensing, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, Whanganui Regional Museum, Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust, and private collector Mike Coils. The moving images include the World Championship Axeman’s Carnival in Taumata Park in 1911, and footage from Eltham’s 75th Jubilee in 1959. Footage supplied by TVNZ Licensing from a Country Calendar episode tells the story of farmer Ernie Tippler farming his slice of paradise in Eltham for over 50 years. Also featured are some Texas Toys from Eltham inventor and   toy-maker Gunner Burger.

This exhibition has been generously funded by the Taranaki Regional Council with media providers TVNZ Archive, and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision. Content has been provided by the Whanganui Regional Museum, Puke Ariki, Rotokare Scenic Reserve Trust, Manatū Taonga the Ministry for Culture and Heritage and Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki with additional support from the South Taranaki District Council. The exhibition season is 2 March 2015 – 2 August 2015. This exhibition is free entry however Koha is always appreciated.

Season: February-August 2015.


This exhibition was funded by the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC).  Image courtesy of Graeme Hotter.


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Port-able: a History of Shipping in South Taranaki

This exhibition looks at maritime activity in two ports – Opunake and Patea. Although both located in South Taranaki these two ports have very different histories and are good examples of the range of activities that have been seen on   the West Coast of the North Island in the last 150 years. Looking at photographs from the early days of shipping in South Taranaki evokes images of a quieter life, when travelling by ship was a slow, and often seemingly-romantic adventure, as people tried to forge a new life for themselves in a strange land. The reality though, is that travelling by ship was a dangerous business; the passage itself was often rough and in the early days the ports were ill-equipped for the passengers and cargo they dealt with. The hard work in those ports, and the goods, services and people they brought to South Taranaki, helped us become the wonderful district we are today.

This exhibition draws on the collections of Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki and is generously supported by the Taranaki Regional Council, and Puke Ariki.

Season: July 2014 – Feb 2015


This exhibition was funded by the Taranaki Regional Council (TRC).



The Portrait Show: Capturing Gender through Portraiture

In common use, the word gender may refer to biological sex, self-identity, perceived identity, or imposed identity.  Gender can be both fluid and ambiguous. Many of the ways we express and identify gender are based on visual clues.   Aotea Utanganui is proud to present The Portrait Show: Capturing Gender Through Portraiture, is an exhibition that explores ways gender has been presented in photographs, ranging from archetypal to non-traditional to subversive representations, with a special emphasis on the performances that photography can encourage or capture.

With a collection that spans over 100 years of photography, Aotea Utanganui is able to thoughtfully examine our changing cultural and social landscape, in which evolving ideas of gender portraiture are framed as photographic images. Portrait Show: Capturing Gender Through Portraiture offers the opportunity to see historical photographs from our collection in a reinvigorated context.

Exhibition Curator, Cameron S. Curd.

Season: Jan – July 2015



Keep Calm and Carry On: a Domestic Revolution

Keep Calm and Carry On: the Domestic Revolution illustrates the evolution and advancements in technology of domestic appliances and labour-saving devices. Showcasing collection items from Aotea Utanganui, Puke Ariki, Whanganui Regional Museum, Archives New Zealand, New Zealand Film Archive and the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Before domestic appliances and labour-saving devices where commonplace in the home the domestic landscape was a very different one. During the Industrial Revolution of 1750-1850 significant changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times. So did domestic appliances make home-life any easier? Through continued innovation and experimentation manufacturers refined their designs to meet customers needs thus evolving the products in the process.  This evolutionary change was now occurring on a grand scale and at the beginning of the 20th century thousands of new products were flooding onto the consumer market. The greatest innovation during this century was the introduction of electrification bringing light and power into the home.

Then two major engineering innovations – resistance heating and small efficient motors – which lead to electric stoves and irons, vacuum cleaners, washers, dryers, and dishwashers. In the second half of the 20th century advances in electronics yielded appliances that could be set on timers and programmed, further reducing the domestic workload by allowing washing and cooking to go on without the backbreaking efforts of human interaction.

Today how we use domestic appliances depends on their context and our location. With the supply and demand of wireless technology products including iPhones, tablets and high-speed internet, our veracious appetite for new appliances and up-to-the-minute gadgets has already surpassed all predicted expectations – leading to the explosion of the electronic revolution, civilisations next frontier.

Exhibition Curator, Cameron S. Curd

Season: Aug – Jan 2014


Hero ImageFlickering Light: Taranaki Cinema History

Flickering Light: Taranaki Cinema History showcases the once thriving cinema culture in the Taranaki region. Curated from the collections of Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki, Puke Ariki and Archives New Zealand, Flickering Light: Taranaki Cinema History explores the regional cinemas’ influence within communities and how they shaped the viewing appetite of theatre-goers.  

Flickering Light: Taranaki Cinema History also explores the significance of Taranaki’s theatres and film-making prowess within the New Zealand cinema context. The decline of cinema attendance in the late 1960’s was mainly attributed to the introduction of television.  During the early 20th Century, however cinema was a dominant force within communities in New Zealand and none more so than in Taranaki.

Over twenty picture theatres and community halls hosted film screenings from local film proprietors and industry moguls. Some were as simple as a projector in a community hall, with others being bespoke picture theatres ‘cashing-in’ on this new craze in entertainment. Taranaki’s picture theatres were spread around the coast from Mokau in the North to Pātea & Waverley in the South.

Today only a handful of local theatres remain in operation with the dominant force in movie exhibition coming from the Multiplex cinema chains including Readings, Sky City Entertainment and Rialto. At the beginning of the 21st Century the pervasive influence of the internet on moving image consumption may surpass the Multiplex networks just as television superseded the humble picture theatres during the 20th Century.

Exhibition Curator, Cameron S. Curd

Season: Feb – April 2013



The Art of Collage

The Art of Collage is an international celebration of the collage art-form.  Every year collage artists from around the World each send thirteen of their collage artworks to New Zealand to be part of the International Collage Exhibition/Exchange. One collage from each artist is offered for sale, eleven are mixed and sent in exchange packs to other artists, and one is gifted to an institution of art or learning somewhere in the World. 2012 has seen the 14th of these International Exchanges, and one artwork from each of 91 participating artists are now part of the heritage collection at Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki.

Curated by Dale Copeland with Cameron Curd

Season: November 1 2012 – 11 January 2013

Below is all of the collage works included in this exhibition experience.

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