Ross O'Rourke, History curator

Research Projects  

Most of the research completed by the history team at Te Papa is associated with exhibition development, Te Papa’s collections, and individual areas of specialty and personal interest. The main exhibition research currently in progress relates to the following:

  • Italian community in New Zealand
  • New Zealand in the 1970s
  • Sir Peter Blake tribute
  • The race to the South Pole
  • The body
  • Pacific Island people of New Zealand
  • New Zealand Post Stamp Collection

Document Bank - Ross O'Rourke

A document bank on key objects, collections, and personalities has been developed and is accessible in Te Papa’s library.

More about the Document Bank 
Library and Information Centre - Te Aka Matua

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Long-Term Loan - Stephanie Gibson

The History Collection contains a significant long-term loan from Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. The aims of this project are to research and catalogue the long-term loan, research existence and availability of relevant material overseas, and to augment the long-term loan with acquisitions of relevant material.

War Posters - Stephanie Gibson

The History Collection contains a significant collection of war posters from throughout the twentieth century. The aims of this project are to research and catalogue the war poster collection, assess its significance in national and international terms, and to strengthen the collection with relevant acquisitions.

More about the War Posters project

Gold and Silverwork - Michael Fitzgerald

The History Collection contains significant examples of early and recent New Zealand gold and silverwork. Work carried out in 1991-95 supported a  publication by a museum research associate on this topic. (Shepherd, W. 1995. Gold and Silversmithing in 19th and 20th Century New Zealand. Wellington: Museum of New Zealand.) Interest in this research subject continues in work towards an exhibition scheduled for 2005-2006.

A History of Popular Encounters with the Natural Environment - Kirstie Ross

Current research projects include a history of popular encounters with the natural environment. The aim of this research is to provide fresh insights into the reasons for Pākeha New Zealanders’ recreational occupation of the landscape, and its findings are to be published as A Proper Sense of Country: A Visual, Cultural and Social History of Pākeha Outdoor Leisure, by Auckland University Press. This work is partly supported by a 2004 Award in History. The award, from the New Zealand History Research Trust Fund, will enable the consultation of archival sources on tramping and camping, nature study, popular nature writing, and Arbor Day tree planting.

Going bush : New Zealanders and nature in the twentieth century. Kirstie Ross. Auckland, N.Z. : Auckland University Press, 2008

Tīvaevae Making in New Zealand

The  focus of this project is based around interviews of Cook Island women who have made a reputation for themselves as makers and designers of tīvaevae in New Zealand.