Past Exhibitions

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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