Golden Days 


Curriculum links

Learning area

Social Studies

Which strands will it fit with?

  • Continuity and Change
  • Place and Environment
  • Identity, Culture, and Organisation 

Key competencies

Using language, symbols, and texts: students will view an audiovisual show that encapsulates memorable moments in New Zealand history, and uses metaphor, technology and symbolism to tell the story.

Relating to others: students will recognise features of the show, share information and ask questions about the historical parts that interest them.

Levels of achievement

Levels 1-8

Year group

Years 1-13

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Which topics of study can it support?

  • Disasters
  • New Zealand history
  • Innovation and invention


How long might this take? 

The full show is 16 minutes long.

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Where do I find it?

  • Level 4, opposite Community Gallery. If you get lost, just ask a Te Papa Host.

Why should I take my class to visit this?

  • This show presents New Zealand History through a combination of robotics, film, and music.
  • Significant historical moments are linked through emotions (such as celebration, conflict, reflection) rather than following a chronological path.
  • The show appeals to people who learn through by seeing and listening
  • It's a new and exciting way of approaching history, which explores links between people’s personal treasures, their memories and key historical moments.

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What is there to do there?

  • Go to the show and watch this journey into the past.
  • See how many of the events, people, and places you can remember from your own life or from what you learnt in school.

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What should I know about this?

  • Golden Dayscaptures New Zealand’s nation-shaping moments, using material from popular television shows such as This is Your Life, The Way We Were, Country Calendar, and Heartland.
  • Golden Days surveys New Zealand's pioneering heritage - the sowing of the land, the planting of forests, the development of our international exports, and the harnessing of our enormous energy resources. It also looks at iconic people, places and events including Sir Edmund Hillary, William Pickering,  Billy T James, Howard Morrison, Grant Fox, Jonah Lomu, Rachel Hunter, the  Wahine disaster, Black Magic, the Ballantynes fire, votes for women, the quater-acre paradise and much more. 

Possible topics for discussion

  • Before you enter Golden Days, suggest that students make a mental note if they don't understand something in the show. They can also note things to share with the group. Often adults accompanying the group recognise references in the show that younger viewers may not be familiar with (for example, the underarm bowling incident).
  • How do you think the objects move?
    Several things make Golden Days happen every 20 minutes, everyday. The video is played off a DVD player, like you may have at home. Some of the models that 'come to life' have small electric motors that move them, air-powered mechanisms move others. Finally, there's a small computer that tells the DVD player when it's time for a show, and when each motor is required to run. And we milk the cow twice a day.
  • What is the cricket ball there for?
    The cricket ball represents a famous incident in the 1980-81 Benson and Hedges World Series Cup Cricket match between New Zealand and Australia. Australian skipper Greg Chappell ordered his younger brother Trevor to bowl underarm in the last over, just as New Zealand needed six runs to tie the game.
  • What is the bird in the cage?
    The bird is a tui, which is sometimes used for the morning bird song before Morning Report on Radio New Zealand National.
  • What was your favourite part of the show? Why?
  • What was your least favourite part? Why?

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Further information

  • Golden Days is free.
  • Golden Days shows every day at twenty-minute intervals: on the hour, at twenty past the hour, and twenty to the hour (for example, 10.00am, 10.20am, 10.40am, 11.00am).
  • Bookings can be made for Golden Days, but only on the day that you visit (that is, you can’t book days or weeks in advance). If you would like to make a booking for your group, visit the Golden Days host when you arrive at Te Papa and book your prefered time.
  • Recommended adult to student ratio: primary 1:6, secondary 1:20.
  • Maximum people inside show is 22.
  • Wheelchair access.

Further information

Related material

  • Britten Bike, Level 4, outside the lifts. John Britten invented this world famous motorbike, which appears in the invention section of Golden Days.
  • Awesome Forces, Level 2 has more about the 1931 Hawke's Bay Earthquake which features in the disaster section of the Golden Days show.

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