Entrance boulders

These three boulders, outside Te Papa’s main entrance, symbolise our commitment to New Zealand’s land and people.

  • When Long-term exhibition
  • Where Te Papa Plaza

These three boulders, outside Te Papa’s main entrance, symbolise our commitment to New Zealand’s land and people.

The boulders represent:

  • Papatūānuku – the earth mother (the middle stone)
  • Tangata whenua – Māori, the indigenous people of New Zealand (the stone nearest Cable Street)
  • Tangata Tiriti – people in New Zealand by right of the Treaty of Waitangi (the stone nearest our entrance).

Children play on Te Papa's large exterior boulders

Caption

Exterior boulders, 2010. Photograph by Michael Hall. Te Papa

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 laharlahar a raging river of mud, snow, and ice that flows down a volcano, which made the rocks smooth.

The Tangata Tiriti boulder is Karamea granite, an igneous rockigneous 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.