Humans of Te Papa

Meet some of the faces behind the roles at the museum, and find out why Te Papa is a great place to work.

Samir Marta, Host

Man stands in Te Papa host uniform of blue shirt and red jumper

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Samir Marta, 2016. Te Papa

Originally from Syria, Samir Marta guided tourists through medieval castles in Aleppo, Saladdin, and Crac des Chevaliers, museums in Damascus, Hama, Suweida, and Palmyra, and over 280 ancient archeological sites – until falling in love with an intrepid Kiwi (now his wife Lindsay) and deciding to move to Aotearoa; "A country of incredible beauty and a warm, open society." 

The Whare Nui is Samir’s favourite exhibit to show visitors because of its embodied culture and art. You might hear him speaking a different language each time you pass by – Te Reo Māori is also being added to that list.

Ati Teepa, Public Programmes Specialist

Portrait of man wearing a suit with a badge

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Ati Teepa, 2017. Te Papa

“I never dreamt of working in a museum, as Ngai Tūhoe often viewed museums suspiciously as the place where our taonga go to die - but since working here I have seen the aroha that goes into the care, the research and the display of all taonga, including those from Te Urewera. My home.

“As a public programmes specialist I get to engage our visitors with our exhibitions and collections, which includes designing events and activities to enhance their experience.

“As a kid I wanted to be either in a heavy metal band or in the creative industries. Since being here I have hosted bands, artists, composers, scientists, chefs, composers, game developers, kaumatua, rangatahi, people with disabilities and people living with mental health. You can’t do that in a metal band. 

“In my opinion, the best thing we do here is repatriating our ancestors from overseas. Often they have been away for over 200 years, and to be able to haka them home is a privilege that I will forever remember. To know your voice is among the first voices will they hear in their own language for perhaps a century or more is moving. In Tuhoe we talk of Matemateaone, which I interpret as a yearning. A yearning for home, for my people. When I see them come onto the marae at Te Papa, my yearning for home seems insignificant compared to how they must be feeling.”

Peter Aldridge, Security Officer

Man in security guard uniform stands on a staircase in an industrial-looking warehouse

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Peter Aldridge, 2017. Te Papa

“What makes Te Papa is the people. Being able to interact with visitors is brilliant. We don't have to be the 'bad guys' much. The main thing we do is help people with where they need to go, and alarm / CCTV monitoring. That’s much more common than dealing with incidents.

“My biggest day on the job was when a guy smashed through the window on Level 4. We had to tackle him down to the ground. He had mental health problems – it was a big job. But we prevented something that could have been a lot worse. We were shocked by it.

“Rongomaraeroa is my favourite place in the museum. Even when your day is full on you can go to reflect at the marae; take time out for 10 minutes and sit down, come back and get on with your job.

“I’ve always been interested in flying (which I do), and anything to do with aviation. My best friends a pilot, dad was a pilot, and so on. You can guess that one of my favourite exhibitions was Air New Zealand.”

Laura Jones, Education Specialist

Woman poses for a portrait

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Laura Jones, 2016. Te Papa

“It’s important to shake things up in the classroom. Artists come in with a completely different perspective and enthuse everyone. And you reflect on your own practice a lot.

“[My favourite object at Te Papa is] a very tiny thing that you could walk past and miss – theres an anti-slavery medal by Josiah Wedgwood in our Splendour exhibition [no longer on display]. I come from the land of Wedgwood in the UK and I had no idea that those things were made! It’s very special to have discovered that now I'm here, in New Zealand.”

Stephen Moorhouse, Public Programmes Specialist

Man in a checked shirt stands in front of trees

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Stephen Moorhouse, 2017. Te Papa

“There are very few workplaces that have such a prime location. Well apart from when I worked at Kelly Tarlton’s in Auckland (that was a pretty unique waterfront location too). Te Papa is like nowhere else. The bicultural model of the museum, and being involved in processes such as repatriation, are very significant to me.

“People are very good at underestimating the amount of time and organisation that it takes to put on a public programme or event. They are inclined to think that we can just rustle up an event overnight. As a public ‘programmer’ a lot of people also think that I work with computers!

“As a kid I was into birds, bikes and trucks. I've previously worked at DOC and the Natural History Museum, London. I hadn’t anticipated doing public engagement work though. I always thought I would be in the field ‘finding stuff out.’ I still do ride my bike quite a bit so am on the money with that one.”