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History team

Find out about the people that make up our History team and their roles at Te Papa.

Safua Akeli Amaama

Head of New Zealand and Pacific Histories and Cultures

Safua stands to the right of the photo frame in front of a waka

Safua Akeli Amaama is a historian, with a particular interest in Pacific-New Zealand relations. She has research interests in cultural heritage, gender, migration, health, and governance.

Claire Regnault

Senior Curator New Zealand Histories and Cultures

Claire Regnault

Claire’s research interests lie primarily in New Zealand’s fashion history and associated industries.

Her fashion-based publications include: ‘Cubist dreams and wings like fireflies: the textile designs of Frances Hodgkins’, Off the Wall 3 (2013), ‘A culture of ease’ in Black: the history of black in fashion, society and culture in New Zealand (Penguin, 2012), The Dress Circle: New Zealand Fashion Design Since 1940 (Godwit, 2010) with Douglas Lloyd Jenkins and Lucy Hammonds, and a finalist in the 2011 NZ Post Book Awards, ‘Mary Annette Hay: the Miracle of Wool’ in the Wool Lover, and The New Zealand Gown of the Year (HBCT, 2003). 

Her most recent book is Dressed: Fashionable Dress in Aotearoa New Zealand 1840 to 1910 (Te Papa Press, 2021). Claire is an active member of the Costume & Textile Association of New Zealand, and regularly contributes to the association’s symposia and journal.

Stephanie Gibson

Curator New Zealand Histories and Cultures

Stephanie Gibson

Stephanie’s research interests include the material and visual culture of protest and human rights, and collecting in the aftermath of traumatic events. Her continuing museological research focuses on museums and community participation. 

Stephanie co-authored the award-winning Protest Tautohetohe: Objects of resistance, persistence and defiance (Te Papa Press, 2019), with Puawai Cairns and Matariki Williams, which won Best Illustrated Non-Fiction at the 2020 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

Selected bibliography:
Display folk: Second World War posters at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Stephanie Gibson, Tuhinga 19 (2008) 
Representing community exhibitions at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Stephanie Gibson and Sean Mallon, Tuhinga 21 (2010) 
First World War posters at Te Papa, Stephanie Gibson, Tuhinga 23 (2012)
The Mixing Room project at Te Papa: co-creating the museum with refugee background youth in Aotearoa/New Zealand, Stephanie Gibson and Sara Kindon, Tuhinga 24 (2013) 
Evaluation of Contraception: Uncovering the collection of Dame Margaret Sparrow, Stephanie Gibson, Tuhinga 29 (2018)

Katie Cooper

Curator New Zealand Histories and Cultures

Katie Cooper

Katie’s research interest is the material culture of domestic life, focusing in particular on nineteenth-century New Zealand. She is also engaged in ongoing research into the social and cultural history of rural New Zealand.

Grace Gassin

Curator Asian New Zealand Histories

A lady smiles at the camera

Grace’s overarching focus is on highlighting the diverse historical and contemporary experiences of New Zealand’s many Asian diaspora communities. Her wide-ranging interests also encompass the politics of inclusion and interpretation that frame our understandings of Asian diaspora histories, and transnational dimensions of Asian Australasian diaspora experiences.



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