The three boulders on our forecourt

The three boulders outside the main entrance symbolise our commitment to Aotearoa New Zealand’s land and people.

Entrance boulders, 2017. Photograph by Rachael Hockridge. Te Papa

The three-stone formation in the forecourt by the main entrance of Te Papa, is representative of Te Papa's commitment to Papatūānuku, Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti.

The big boulder in the middle is the foundation stone and represents Papatūānuku, the smaller rounded one nearest Cable Street represents Tangata Whenua, and the boulder closest to the building entrance represents Tangata Tiriti.

Rock types

The Papatūānuku and tangata whenua boulders are andesite lava that erupted from Mt Taranaki about 75,000 years ago. They come from a lahar (a raging river of mud, snow, and ice that flows down a volcano) which made the rocks smooth.

The boulder representing Tangata Tiriti is Karamea granite, an igneous rock formed from a molten state. The granite is about 350 million years old and comes from the Ōpārara River, north of Karamea. Granite represents solidity and permanence. Its various colours symbolise the diversity of Tangata Tiriti in New Zealand.

What is inscribed on the foundation stone?

Museum of New Zealand
Te Papa Tongarewa

Te ihi, te mana, te wehi
ma te kōhatu nei e whakatā
e whakatipu ngā rangatiratanga

This stone celebrates the many
journeys and identities of all the
communities and peoples
of New Zealand

The stone was unveiled by
the Prime Minister
Right Honourable James Bolger
on 2 July 1994