Tiger Moth 

DH82a Tiger Moth, ZK-AJO 1941, de Havilland (NZ) Aircraft Co. Ltd, Wellington. Purchased 2009. Te Papa
DH82a Tiger Moth, ZK-AJO 1941, de Havilland (NZ) Aircraft Co. Ltd, Wellington. Purchased 2009. Te Papa

Curriculum links 

Learning area

Social Studies

Which strands will it fit with?

Place and Environment
The Economic World

Key competencies

Thinking; Participating and contributing

Levels of achievement

Levels 18

Year groups

Years 113

Which topics of study can it support?

  • New Zealand technological advances
  • Innovation and inventions
  • New Zealand icons

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How long might this take?

Allow 510 minutes.

Where do I find it?

  • Level 4, near Golden Days. If you get lost, just ask a Te Papa Host.

Why should I take my class to visit this?

  • This Tiger Moth is considered a New Zealand icon as it was closely linked with the development of aerial topdressing the spreading of fertilizers over farmland from an aircraft. This practice  now common across the world was developed in New Zealand in the 1940s.
  • This aircraft had different functions during its active life.
  • The whole class can easily fit around and under the aircraft.

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What is there to do there?

  • Observe the plane and use it as a discussion point.
  • Discuss design, innovations, and icons.

What should I know about this?

  • Tiger Moths have been buzzing around in the world’s skies since 1931.
  • The planes were designed by the De Havilland Company in England as a simple training aircraft, and thousands were built during World War II.
  • This plane was powered by a De Havilland Gypsy Major in-line four-cylinder engine.
  • It was built at Rongotai Airport in Wellington in 1941 one of about 400 built there to train New Zealand pilots for World War II.
  • It is still flyable.
  • After being used to train pilots for the war, then in 1949 this plane was converted to spread fertilizer on New Zealand farmland. This involved replacing the front (student pilot’s) seat with a hopper. The pilot could pull a lever to release the load.
  • This Tiger Moth worked mostly in the Waikato/South Auckland area, dropping 28,000 tonnes of fertilizer on farmland from 1949 until it was retired in 1956.
  • The aircraft has a range of 459km.
  • The maximum speed of the aircraft is 175km/h.
  • The cruising speed of the aircraft is145km/h.
  • The weight of the empty aircraft is 506kg.
  • The weight of the loaded aircraft is 828kg.

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Possible topics for discussion

  • What has this plane been used for at different times?

Training pilots for war and for top dressing to make the land more productive.

  • As a form of transport, what can aircraft do well and not so well?

Get the children to describe other modes of transport that fly, such as seaplanes or helicopters.

  • How have aircraft like this affected the New Zealand landscape?

Spreading fertilizer by aerial topdressing has significantly increased the productivity of New Zealand's farmland. What other tools have changed the landscape, such as the tractor or plough?

  • Compare this plane with modern aircraft   what are the main differences?

The double wings of this bi-plane are very different from the triangular wings of the Stealth bomber, and older propeller engines are very different from today's jet engines

  • What kind of flying experiences have you had?

Where did they go and why? Was it for a holiday? For what other reasons do people travel by plane?

  • If the you could fly anywhere in the world in this plane, where would you go? Why?

What would they take with them (remembering there is not much room in the fuselage)?

  • What are New Zealand icons?

A New Zealand icon is something that represents this country. Is this plane a New Zealand icon? Why/why not?

  • Does this plane represent Kiwi ingenuity?

The plane's primary function of the plane has been changed from training pilots to fly warplanes to spreading fertilizer and increasing the productivity of the land.

Further information

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Related objects

  • Phar Lap’s skeletonon Level 4. This New Zealand racehorse was another national icon and won many races.
  • The waka (canoe) Teremoe on Level 4. Māori transport icon.
  • Golden Days on Level 4. See many other New Zealand icons and iconic moments as this 'junkshop' comes to life.

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