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 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 has worked in the art gallery and museum sector since the mid-1990s. While her curatorial practice has encompassed art, design and popular culture, her research interests lie primarily in New Zealand’s dress histories and associated industries. Her latest book, Dressed, is a social history of fashionable dress in Aotearoa New Zealand from 1840 to 1910, and won the Booksellers Aotearoa New Zealand Award for Illustrated Non-Fiction at the 2022 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Claire is on the committee of the Costume & Textile Association of New Zealand, and represents Te Papa on the Eden Hore Central Otago steering group.

Selected bibliography:



  • ‘Embroidering the Whanganui’, The Lives of Colonial Objects, (OUP, 2015)

  • ‘The Book of Timothy: Costume in Yvonne Todd’s Photoraphy’ in Robert Leonard (ed) Creamy Psychology: Yvonne Todd (VUW, 2014)

  • Introduction, The Berry Boys: Portraits of First World War Soldiers and Families (Te Papa Press, 2014)

  • ‘A culture of ease’ in Doris de Pont (ed) Black: the history of black in fashion, society and culture in New Zealand (Penguin, 2012)


Stephanie Gibson

Curator New Zealand Histories and Cultures

Stephanie’s research interests include the material and visual culture of protest, conflict and reform, as well as everyday life in Aotearoa New Zealand. 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. With Claire Regnault, she recently co-authored Tiny Statements: A social history of Aotearoa New Zealand in badges (Te Papa Press, 2023).

Selected bibliography:

Katie Cooper

Curator New Zealand Histories and Cultures

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 (Lîm Sò͘-chin 林素真)

Curator Asian New Zealand Histories

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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