The black sand on the panels:
“We have a bach on the south side of the Manukau on the west coast where they have these black sand deposits on the beach, so we were about to get it and I suddenly thought, hell, this is Te Papa, we can’t just go and collect black sand off the beach, you’re not supposed to do that, so we had to go through a resource consent process and get local iwi approval.
"Where we wanted to get it from, there was the most beautiful strand of black sand. It happened to be a spiritual spot out at Hamilton’s Gap. And then one morning we just got out of bed at the bach, we were gonna go over and get the sand, and right in front of our bach was this beautiful strand of black sand – so we said, oh bugger it, we’ll use this.
"We filled up 10 big buckets of the stuff, and Miriam spent weeks drying it and washing it, getting all the salt out of it, drying it in the oven at home, batch by batch by batch, and then we lugged it all down here.
"Then while the building was still being built around [us] – and they were still putting ceilings up – there was dust everywhere... She did these panels, you have to do them on the flat, and she has to glue it and sieve it... She got it done and it’s survived the distance really well.
"The amazing thing was that she only used one of those ten pots of sand, so somewhere in the bowels of Te Papa are nine big buckets of black sand.”
Close-up of the black sand used on the mounts in Signs of a Nation, 2022. Photo by Daniel Crichton-Rouse. Te Papa