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Early Encounters - Teacher resources 

Kia ora teachers and students!

These resources can be used as background reading either before or after you visit Oceania: Early encounters.  There is plenty to discover that will reveal the rich history of Pacific peoples.

Student Trail

Model drua (sailing canoe) - This object is featured in the Student TrailUse this booklet in the exhibition with your students. 
Download a pdf copy now to view before your visit.
  Oceania: Early Encounters Student Trail (pdf)

On the day you can collect a class set of Student Trails at the exhibition entrance on Level 4.


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Create your own PDF guide to Oceania: Early encounters, then download or email it.

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Watch the Tales fromTe Papa mini-documentaries  

The objects below are on display in Oceania: Early encounters at Te Papa. 
Each item is linked to the Tales from Te Papa Teacher Resource.

  • Watch the mini-documentaries, as seen on TVNZ 7.
  • Questions for students and response templates are provided. 
  • This resource is the result of a partnership between TVNZ 7, Vero, and Te Papa.


Tatau – Samoan tattooing
It is often a painful experience getting a tattoo; curator Sean Mallon explains why it is so important in Samoan culture. More>

Chief Mourner’s costume

In the Pacific, it wasn't always appropriate to wear black to a funeral. Several hundred years ago the fashion was a frightening outfit made from precious pearl and black shell. More>

Banks and Solander Collection
The iconic silver fern first represented our country 250 years ago. However, it wasn't on any sports shirt or flag. An actual piece of fern travelled to England pressed between pages from a famous novel. More>

Samoan cricket bats
Kilikiti is the national sport of Samoa. With the help of some huge bats Simon Morton discovers backyard cricket, Pacific island style. More>

Child’s wrap
Curator Matiu Baker discovers the mysterious past of a precious child's cloak. The result, a poignant reunion between whānau and the taonga of their cherished ancestor. More>

Tuvalu clothes
European missionaries had an impact on the Pacific islands in more ways than one. Their conservative clothes intrigued the near-naked locals. It wasn't long before villagers adopted the new styles, but with a unique Pacific twist. More>

Who killed the huia?
Sadly, you'll never get to see a live huia – they mysteriously died out a hundred years ago. But how? Riria Hotere discovers why bird fanatic Walter Buller was a prime suspect.  More>

Poi awe
Poi take a fair beating in kapa haka. But you won't find the rare and delicate poi awe swinging in time to music. Elaborate weaving and tassles of dog hair make these poi particularly precious. More>

A chiefly sword
Find out how a sword became an important symbol of peace. Matiu Baker shares with us the history of Te Rauparaha's sword. More>

New Zealand Company flag
Riria Hotere discovers one of our country's oldest and most controversial flags. First flown on Wellington Harbour in 1839, will it fly again one day? More>

Puffer fish helmet
In Kiribati, the most dangerous sea creatures are worn bravely and proudly. Riria Hotere meets a fish that could kill you, unless you are wearing it. More>

Fijian war clubs
Te Papa's Pacific collection store is home to all manner of ferocious weapons, including the deadly iUla throwing club. More>

Flintlock musket
Michael Fitzgerald shows us the type of weapon that generated the expression 'a flash in the pan'. More>

Stories sewn in quilts
NOTE: This quilt is on display at City Gallery Wellington, the above items are all at Te Papa.
Tivaevae play an important role in the narrative tradition of Pacific culture. Take a look at two of these beautiful quilts in Te Papa's collection. More>