The largest cultural project in New
Zealand's history and constructed at a cost of $NZ 317 million, Te Papa
tells the stories of this young Pacific nation; its history, art and natural environment.
The museum powerfully expresses the total culture of New Zealand, which
legally is a bicultural country. Under the treaty of Waitangi, (a giant
two story replica on display in the center of the museum), there are the
Tangata Whenua, the people in New Zealand by right of first arrival and
the Tangata Tiriti, people in New Zealand by right of the treaty. The two
cultures see themselves in a constant process of redefinition.
Te Papa considers itself integral to this debate about their identity,
and wants to contribute to it. Exhibitions and events proudly come from
The unique geological structure of the country
is also represented in the architecture of the building itself. There is a
mighty charcoal colored wall slicing right through Te Papa and projecting
beyond each end. This symbolic fault line is parallel to the actual
earthquake fault line nearby on the western side of Wellington Harbor.
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The flora and fauna of New Zealand are also showcased in the long term
exhibitions Mountains to Sea and Awesome Forces. Bush City is an outside
area that recreates sections of the New Zealand landscape with living
Te Papa has four individually themed Discovery Centers which are specially
designed to provide an interactive, fun learning experience for children.
There is also a fine dining restaurant, an
espresso bar, a family cafe, magnificent conference
facilities, and a 350 seat theater.