History 

What can you tell me about the de Surville anchor?

Who discovered the de Surville anchors?

What happened to Phar Lap's remains?

What is the Tamil Bell?

What can you tell me about Te Papa's Pacific Collection?

What can you tell me about the Britten motorbike?

What can you tell me about the Tiger Moth?

What can you tell me about the Endeavour cannon?

What is the Treaty of Waitangi? What do the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi contain?

What can you tell me about the Zhang Heng earthquake recorder?

How does the Zhang Heng seismograph work?

Who was Hone Heke?

Where is the sarcophagus and the Egyptian mummy?

What can you tell me about the Egyptian mummy?

Who was Sir James Hector?

Where is Captain Cook's cloak?

What can you tell me about Captain Cook's cloak?

 

What can you tell me about the de Surville anchor?

The de Surville anchor was one of the first items from Europe to arrive in Aotearoa.

In the 1760s, Jean Marie François de Surville, a former French naval captain, commanded a 650-tonne ship, the St Jean Baptiste, on a private French expedition to seek out trade opportunities and take possession of any land discovered for France.

He sailed in 1768 from Pondicherry, French India, travelling through the Philippines, past New Caledonia, and reached the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand in December 1769. By the time he arrived here, fifty-four crew members had died (out of around 170) from scurvy.

De Surville's ship anchored in Doubtless Bay and the crew established peaceful relations with local Māori so the ship was brought in closer to shore. On 27 December, a strong easterly gale blew up. As the storm worsened, one of the anchor cables broke and two others had to be cut to save the ship.

With only two anchors left, it proved too difficult to stay on the coast and the French explorers made a hasty departure.

Two anchors were raised on 18 December 1974.

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Who discovered the de Surville anchors?

Divers Kelly Tarlton and Mike Bearsley found the three anchors lost by de Surville. Kelly Tarlton later created Kelly Tarlton's Antarctic and Underwater World, a huge aquarium and theme park in Auckland.

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What happened to Phar Lap's remains?

After Phar Lap's death on 6 April 1932, his owners, Mr D J Davis and Mr H R Telford, presented his hide and heart to Australia and his skeleton to New Zealand. Phar Lap's mounted hide is held in the Museum of Victoria and his heart is in the Museum of Australia. Phar Lap's skeleton is on display in Te Papa on Level 4.

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What is the Tamil Bell?

Around 1836, the missionary William Colenso met Māori near Whangarei using the bell as a kohua (iron pot) to cook potatoes. It is bronze, thirteen centimetres long and nine centimetres deep, and has an inscription.

Colenso was told that the bell had been found after a heavy gale had blown down a large tree; it was uncovered from the tree roots. Its owners believed that the bell had been in the possession of the iwi (tribe) for several generations.

Colenso swapped an iron pot for the bell. After his death he bequeathed the bell to the Colonial Museum, forbear to Te Papa Tongarewa.

The bell produced a lot of interest when it was exhibited, and discussions and theories abounded about its origins. The bell was photographed and copies sent to England and various people in India. Tamils in Southern India immediately recognised the writing on the bell.

The bell has been identified as a type of ship's bell. Some of the characters in the inscription are of an archaic form no longer seen in modern Tamil script; thus suggesting that the bell could be about 500 years old.

For more information please contact the Te Aka Matua library via the Enquiries Centre.

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What can you tell me about Te Papa's Pacific Collection?

The Pacific Collection has been growing since the early days of the Colonial Museum in the nineteenth century, when some important gifts were received. It was boosted by significant bequests early last century and continues to grow to this day.

The collection includes objects from all of the island groups in Polynesia and Melanesia, including Papua New Guinea and a few from Micronesia.

Of special importance are several groups of items collected during the voyages of English navigator and explorer Captain James Cook. Of special importance is the magnificent feather cloak presented to Cook by the Hawaiian chief Kalani‘opu'u on 26 January 1779.

Other outstanding objects include historic canoes from Samoa and the Cook Islands and many beautiful examples of mats and tapa. In recent years, there has been a new focus on contemporary material, both from the islands and on things made or used by Pacific Islanders in New Zealand.

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What can you tell me about the Britten motorbike?

The motorbike in Te Papa’s collection is the original Britten V1000.

The Britten motorbike is revolutionary, with a radical body design and a new type of engine. An onboard computer controls six engine functions. The cycle's body is built of carbon fibre, which is lightweight and strong.

Aucklander Andrew Stroud was riding the Britten V1000 when it won the International Battle of the Twins (two-cylinder bikes) at Assen, (Netherlands) in March 1992. It broke four world speed records in 1993 and won the 1994 Daytona race in the United States.

The bike took five years to develop. Incredibly, the prototype was designed and built by someone who, although he was a motorbike enthusiast, was not a professional motorbike designer. John Kenton Britten was a civil engineer with a New Zealand Certificate in Engineering. Sadly, on 5 September 1995, he passed away at the age of forty-five after a battle with cancer.

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What can you tell me about the Tiger Moth?

A Tiger Moth is a biplane designed initially as a training aircraft by de Havillands in the United Kingdom and was first flown in 1931. By 1945, a total of 8500 had been built in various countries, including 345 by de Havilland's New Zealand subsidiary at Rongotai, Wellington, for the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

After World War II, many Tiger Moths found a new use as New Zealand's earliest top-dressing aircraft.

The Tiger Moth in Te Papa's collection is a de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth, registration ZK-AJO. The front seat and instruments have been removed and replaced with a hopper and release mechanism for spreading agricultural chemicals.

Many early top-dressing pilots had flown with the RNZAF. For these men, Tiger Moths were the logical choice of aircraft as they were cheap to buy and easy to modify for top-dressing.

But Tiger Moths were underpowered and not built to take heavy loads. Many Tiger Moths crashed and a number of pilots were killed. In the late 1950s, more suitable aircraft began to be used for top-dressing.

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What can you tell me about the Endeavour cannon?

The Endeavour cannon is a muzzle-loading four-pounder carriage gun from the His Majesty’s Bark Endeavour. Cast during the reign of George II, the iron cannon carries the royal monogram and the initials of the maker. The cannon was made around 1750-60 and accompanied Lieutenant James Cook on his first voyage to New Zealand in 1769.

In June 1770, as Endeavour was sailing home from Cook's first voyage to New Zealand, the ship struck the Great Barrier Reef off the East Coast of Queensland. In order to help save the ship, six cannons were cast into the sea.

This cannon, one of the six jettisoned, was found nearly two hundred years later by crew from the American Academy of Sciences, Philadelphia. The cannon lay in four metres of water and was covered in one metre of coral.

The Endeavour cannon was presented to New Zealand by the Australian government on the bicentenary of Captain Cook's first visit to New Zealand.

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What is the Treaty of Waitangi?

It is a treaty signed in 1840 between representatives of the British Crown and more than five hundred chiefs.

The Treaty document comprises a preamble and three articles. With the exception of a group of chiefs who signed an English-language copy of the Treaty, most chiefs signed a copy of the Treaty in the Māori language.

The preamble speaks of the common interests of the British and Māori. It says there is a need to protect both British and Māori interests and to do this by way of 'a settled form of Civil Government'.

Article One generates the most debate. The missionaries' new word kawanatanga (government) was used in the Māori text, and the chiefs were mainly content to concede this to the Crown. But the English version states that they were surrendering 'all the rights and powers of sovereignty' over their territory.

If in the Māori text, instead of the word kawanatanga, the word mana (authority, power, control) had been used, it seems unlikely that the chiefs would have signed the Treaty.

In the absence of any formal constitution, the Treaty is increasingly regarded as the founding document for New Zealand's nationhood, setting a pathway for a future of cooperative partnership between indigenous and other peoples.

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What do the articles of the Treaty of Waitangi contain?

The Treaty of Waitangi (English)
Article the First

The Chiefs of the Confederation of the United Tribes of New Zealand and the separate and independent Chiefs who have not become members of the Confederation cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty which the said Confederation or Individual Chiefs respectively exercise or possess, or may be supposed to exercise or to possess, over their Territories as the sole Sovereigns thereof.

Article the Second

Her Majesty the Queen of England confirms and guarantees to the Chiefs and Tribes of New Zealand and to the respective families and individuals thereof the full exclusive and undisturbed possession of their Lands and Estates Forests Fisheries and other properties which they may collectively or individually possess so long as it is their wish and desire to retain the same in their possession; but the Chiefs of the United Tribes and the individual Chiefs yield to Her Majesty the exclusive right of Pre-emption over such lands as the proprietors thereof may be disposed to alienate at such prices as may be agreed upon between the respective Proprietors and persons appointed by Her Majesty to treat with them in that behalf.

Article the Third

In consideration thereof Her Majesty the Queen of England extends to the Natives of New Zealand Her royal protection and imparts to them all the Rights and Privileges of British Subjects.

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What can you tell me about the Zhang Heng earthquake recorder?

More than 1800 years ago, Zhang Heng, a Chinese astronomer and mathematician who lived during the Eastern Han dynasty, developed this device for recording the ground waves produced by earthquakes. It is the earliest known instrument of its kind.

The Zhang Heng device featured in studies leading to the development of modern seismographs. Dr John Milne described it in the nineteenth century, appreciating the principle of inertia used in the set-up of the pendulum. His own seismograph (which was in use here at the time of the 1931 Hawke's Bay earthquake) and subsequent seismographs were based on refinements of this same principle.

The Zhang Heng device at Te Papa is a half-size bronze replica of the original instrument. It was given to Te Papa and the people of Wellington by the people of the city of Beijing. It was the first of this type to leave China.

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How does the Zhang Heng seismograph work?

The instrument works by inertia. The massive vase is fixed to a chassis to prevent it from toppling. When waves from an earthquake move the ground, the vase and chassis shake in the same direction as the passage of the waves.

Inside the vase there is a heavy upside-down pendulum swinging on a fulcrum low in the vase. This sways in the direction of the movement of the vase, but inertia means that its movement is set off more slowly than that of the vase itself.

On the outside you can see eight dragons evenly spaced around the vase and eight toads with mouths agape below them on the plinth. Each dragon on the outside of the vase has a rod attached to it inside the vase.

When the pendulum moves out of phase with the vase, it collides with the rod in the path of its sway. The impact on the rod opens the jaws of the dragon and a brass ball sitting in the dragon's mouth falls out and into the open mouth of the toad directly below it. This tells you the direction the seismic waves have passed along.

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Who was Hone Heke?

Hone Heke was born at Pakaraka, near the Bay of Islands, in the early nineteenth century. Despite his Christianity, he remained a warrior.

Heke was one of the first chiefs to sign the Treaty of Waitangi, believing that it protected Māori rights and recognised their trusteeship over the land.

When the capital shifted from Kororareka to Auckland many economic benefits were lost, and Heke became upset at his people's suffering. The trial and hanging of Maketu, son of a chief, for the killing of a Pākehā family signalled to Heke that chiefly authority was becoming subservient to that of the British Crown.

On 8 June 1844, Heke's second-in-command led his men to cut down the flagstaff at Kororareka, which Heke had previously donated.

In an escalating conflict, the flagpole was repeatedly replaced. Peace was eventually made, and Heke gifted his carved greenstone mere to Governor George Grey as an emblem of peace and acceptance, but with an expectation that Grey would reciprocate and honour the Treaty.

Heke died in 1850 of tuberculosis. His actions and words had made a powerful and enduring statement about the right of his people to self-determination.

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Where is the sarcophagus and the Egyptian mummy?

The Lady Mehit-Em-Wesekht's sarcophagus (coffin) was on display within Inspiration Station, Te Papa's Art and History Discovery Centre. It is now in storage.

The mummy, Mehit's body, is no longer housed within the sarcophagus and is not on display. The body is in storage under very restricted access.

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What can you tell me about the Egyptian mummy?

Lady Mehit-Em-Wesekht is thought to have lived in about 300BC at the time of the Greek occupation of Egypt.

She was X-rayed in 1961 and this revealed several new facts. She was 150 centimetres tall. A study of her teeth showed that she was about eighteen years old when she died. The cause of her death is not apparent.

Dr Mary Palmer translated the hieroglyphics (writing) on the sarcophagus (coffin). Mehit's father is believed to have been a priest dedicated to the fertility god Min. Her mother is believed to have been a singer in the temple of Min, and Mehit was married to a man named Nes-Min.

After her death, Mehit was mummified. Mummification was a sign of status as only those who could afford the high price of burial were mummified. She was then buried in the Temple of Min's cemetery in Akhmim.

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Who was Sir James Hector?

Dr James Hector, later Sir James Hector, was appointed as the first director of the Colonial Museum in April 1865.

He was born in Edinburgh on 16 March 1834. He trained in medicine and attended lectures on geology and botany. In 1857, he was selected for the post of surveyor and geologist on the Palliser Expedition to Western Canada. One of his most important geological studies was of Kicking Horse Pass, across the Rocky Mountains, which later became the route of the main Canadian Transcontinental Railway. It was this study that led to his general recognition.

The Otago Provincial Government then recommended him for the appointment of surveyor. He was engaged for a term of three years. During this time, he carried out a geological survey of the area.

After three years, in 1864, James Hector was offered the position of director of the Geological Survey. The new position included the terms under which Hector would establish a Colonial Museum. He was its director from 1865 to 1903.

Hector's dolphin is named after Sir James Hector. He was at various times the government geologist, the meteorologist, and head of the Colonial Laboratory.

Find out more about James Hector.

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Where is Captain Cook's cloak?

It is through Tangata o le Moana and behind the stained glass panels leading to Signs of a Nation (the Treaty exhibition). It has motion sensitive lights so that light is not shining on the cloak at all times.

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What can you tell me about Captain Cook's cloak?

The Hawaiian feather cloak was given to Captain James Cook by Kalani‘op‘u, a high chief on the island of Hawai‘i. He was wearing this cloak and a feather helmet when he greeted Cook on the beach at Kealakekua Bay in January 1779.

The gifting of the cloak was a mark of enormous respect as garments like these were worn only by people of high rank. The Hawaiians had considered Cook to be someone very special and even took him to be an incarnation of Lono (the Hawaiian god of human wealth and health).

The garments themselves were effective in battle as the helmets were strong enough to ward off blows to the head and the cloaks acted like flak jackets against sling stones and other weapons.

The base of the cloak is made of a fibre called ‘olona. The feathers are predominantly from the o‘o bird (yellow feathers) and the I‘iwi bird (red feathers) with possibly some from the momo bird (yellow feathers).

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