Who has fought for a better world?

Many generations of people before you have sought justice. We stand in a long line of activists. Explore the ways we can be inspired by and fuelled by the leaders who have gone before us.

Activity: The elephant and the flea

Discover the rich reasons for protest in Aotearoa.

The fight for justice has been a long one, and Aotearoa has a complex history of protest movements. Te Papa’s protest collection reflects just some of the great movements, and leaders of movements, in our recent history.

  • Choose one of the items from our collection and discover more about this protest action. (Best viewed in full-screen.)

Click through to reveal details.

Name: Hikoi for Ihumātao poster

Overview: This poster helped raised awareness of the Ihumātao movement in 2019. Ihumātao, the oldest settlement in Auckland, was established by Ngā Oho iwi as early as the fourteenth century. Ihumātao is one of the last original remaining papakāinga in Auckland, and a site of continuous settlement. It is adjacent to the Ōtuataua Stonefields, Māori stone garden mounds that form some of the earliest gardens in Aotearoa.

In 1863, the Crown launched a premediated war against the Kīngitanga movement and its supporters in Waikato and South Auckland, including Ihumātao. Governor George Grey issued a proclamation that required Māori in these areas to take an oath of allegiance to Queen Victoria and surrender their weapons. Those who refused were warned to retire into the Waikato beyond the Mangatāwhiri stream. This signalled the beginning of the Waikato invasion.

The government decided to pay for the war by confiscating vast areas of land in Waikato and south Auckland. Ihumātao was invaded, homes and properties were looted and destroyed, and the land was confiscated as punishment. ‘Generations of Māori were condemned to lives of poverty and landlessness’ (O’Malley, 2019).

More information about this poster on Collections Online


Hikoi for Ihumātao poster, 2019, by Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho, paper. Gift of anonymous donor, 2021. Te Papa (GH025893)

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Name: Women Want Equal Pay teatowel

Overview: This famous equal pay cartoon was imported from the United States of America and used by the New Zealand Clerical Workers Union in its 1985 campaign seeking equal pay for work of equal value.

The image provides a humorous way into the issue and it’s ironically printed onto a tea towel – a symbol of women’s unpaid domestic labour (i.e. women get to do the dishes regardless of working and getting paid less than their male colleagues).

Some aims take decades, if not centuries, to be realised: first wave feminists had begun campaigning for equality in employment in the mid-1890s. Equal pay for women was legislated for the public service in 1961, and the private sector in 1972, but it is far from resolved.


Women Want Equal Pay tea towel, 1985, by the Clerical Workers Union, cotton. Gift of Jan Noonan, 2010. Te Papa (GH016924)

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Name: Queer Our Schools poster

Overview: This poster advertised a march in Wellington, New Zealand, organised by The Queer Avengers to launch its ‘Queer Our Schools’ campaign in October 2011. They demanded that the Ministry of Education make ‘all schools...through providing flexible dress codes and non-gendered bathrooms; and incorporating sexuality and gender diversity into school subjects such as history, science, health and English’ (scoop.co.nz). The event demonstrated that discrimination against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) communities persisted regardless of legal and societal progress.

The Queer Avengers

The Queer Avengers were a group of activists born from a public meeting in Wellington held after the Queer The Night Collective held a march in June 2011 to challenge homophobia and transphobia.


The poster was designed by Corentin Esquenet and features two symbols of the queer community: unicorns and rainbows. The design also mimics a school coat of arms.


Queer Our Schools poster, 2011, by Corentin Esquenet, paper. Gift of an anonymous donor, 2015. Te Papa (GH024580)

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Name: ‘Marching for My Dad and My Kids’ placard

Overview: This placard was hand-painted by artist Siliga David Setoga for the ‘Advance Pasifika: March For Our Future’ protest held in Auckland on Saturday 16 June 2012, which saw hundreds march from Albert Park to Aotea Square.

The protest organisers called on local and national leaders to take notice of Pacific people's contribution to Auckland and New Zealand, demanding equality, affordable housing, better education, quality healthcare, fairness in the justice system, jobs, and a better future for Pasifika communities. According to Setoga, Advance Pasifika was ‘about protesting for change, about waking up our people still in the same place after 60 years. They came here for a purpose. If we’re still stuck in the low socio-economy – what's the point in coming?’ (personal communication, 2014).

Setoga’s work provokes questions of identity, politics, religion and social issues that face Pacific people. This placard is one of a group which includes slogans ranging from the personal to the historical (‘Manatua le Mau’). Family and friends helped Setoga carry the placards, and he wore a worker's boiler suit and gumboots as part of his stance.


‘Marching for My Dad and My Kids’ placard, 2012, by Siliga Setoga, plastic. Te Papa (GH025295)

Click through to reveal details.

Name: Stop The War poster

Overview: This archive was compiled by Jeremy Lowe (1945-2008), an activist involved in New Zealand’s anti-Vietnam War movement. It contains papers relating to the Wellington Committee on Vietnam, 1966-1975, with newsletters, meeting minutes, reports, and notices, including:

  • Financial statements for 1966-67, 1968, 1969, 1973

  • Chairman’s report to Wellington Committee on Vietnam, 1970, by R. J. Lowe (Jeremy Lowe)

  • Conference documentation, 13-14 November 1971, ‘The War: A conference to examine New Zealand’s continued complicity in the oppression of South-East Asia’

Pamphlets / leaflets include:

  • Can we let this happen again? With image of Prime Minister Holyoake, 1967

  • ‘memorandum for US servicemen from NZ citizens’, 1968

  • Foreign policy – who is right? 1968

  • “Some sacrifice by everyone” Why? 1968

  • Failure of a mission! 1969

  • The Vietnam War is not over, 1969

  • ‘the anguish of Vietnam’ (n.d.)

  • New Zealand in South-East Asia, 1971

  • Why no peace in Indochina? 1974

More information on Collections Online


‘Stop The War’ poster, 1966, Wellington Committee on Vietnam, paper. Gift of Leslie and Shirley Megget, on behalf of Joyce Megget, 2016. Te Papa (GH024951)

  • Create a table to fill in with information as you find it out:

Collection item:Date:

What protest is it from?

Who was involved in this protest?

What was the protest about?

Download a copy of the table above to print out (459.01 KB)

  • Read ‘Stand Up: A History of Protest in New Zealand’ from the School Journal series and add any further ideas to your table. Discuss together:What do you notice about the reasons for these protests?

  • Protests, and the people who lead them, go back into time. The area where you live will have its own unique protest history, which will reflect the stories of the land there. Visit your local museum, library, or activist organisation and explore the stories, artefacts, and people that reflect the protest history within your community.

  • Discuss the quote below. What does this quote, and the history of protest tell us?

“We are not alone in our struggles, we stand in the light of our ancestors.”

– Moana Jackson

Activity: The whakapapa of tradition

Celebrate the rich tradition of protest.

  • Choose a cause, whether that is Te Tiriti justice, LGBTQIA+ issues, feminism, inequality, disability rights, or the climate crisis.

  • Explore Collections Online, Te Ara, NZ History, and your local museum to gather images and information about the struggles that have taken place in our history and in your community. Identify the leaders and significant role models that we have in our past story that we can draw on.

  • You may like to recreate a historical protest photo from the cause you have chosen. You can see some creative examples of people recreating famous artworks here. You may want to design your own slogans to summarise what each cause is struggling for.

Activity: Visions for the future

Recognise the young activists imagining a better world.

  • There are many young people imagining better worlds for us all. Choose one of the activists below, watch their video, research more about them, and design for them their battle stat card. You might like to include on the card stats such as their name, ancestry, story, cause that they are passionate about, their protest weapon of choice in their quest for justice (e.g. pen, platform, etc.):

Brianna Fruean, Pacific climate warrior (Global Citizen)

Mikaela Loach, intersectional environmentalist (Global Citizen)

Georgie Stone, transgender and non-binary rights (ABC ME)

Te Matahiapo Safari Hynes, Te Tiriti justice (Re: News)

Extra links for the extra curious

Go down amazing wormholes with this curated suite of links.