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Museum staff share stories sparked by collection

19 June 2023

Memories, connections, childhood dreams. Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga O Waikato’s new exhibition Taonga Talking has an eclectic and intriguing selection of objects from the Museum’s collection on display, unified by the personal stories of its staff members.

From a 1980s boom box to an 1890s stereoscope, each taonga has been selected from the Museum’s vast collection due to its power to spark a special memory.

“The Waikato Museum team cares for more than 35,000 objects and there are a million stories that could be told through the agency of these objects, taonga and visual arts,” said Liz Cotton, Director of Museum and Arts, Waikato Museum.

“We are very excited to share this personal selection from the collection with our visitors, particularly during Matariki when many of us are reflecting on the past and what we can learn to shape our future.”

The exhibition has been grouped into sections which range from ‘My Turangawaewae: A Place to Stand’ to ‘Inspiring Mentors’ and each item is accompanied by the telling of a staff member’s personal connection.

“This is a wonderful project and it’s been a joy to have these rich, funny, and poignant conversations,” said Maree Mills, Waikato Museum curator.

“Each person has generously shared their own interpretation, bringing a new layer of significance and aroha to the item. We’ve got Dave Mann, our Exhibitions and Operations Manager, who chose a vintage tricycle due to the important role cycling has played in his life as a former professional athlete, to one of our Visitor Experience Representatives, Te Mihinga Tuterangiwhiu, who picked a beautiful watercolour painting of her family’s maunga whakahii, Pirongia.”

“We hope that our community will enjoy getting to know the collection – and our kaimahi [staff] – better through this exhibition.”

Taonga Talking is open from Friday 23 June 2023 until Sunday 15 October 2023 and entry is free. Visit for upcoming public programmes related to the exhibition.


Please note:

For te reo Maaori, Waikato Museum uses double vowels (uu) in place of vowels with a macron (ū) to represent a long vowel sound. This spelling approach is the preference of tangata whenua in Hamilton Kirikiriroa and Waikato iwi for te reo Maaori words. Artists’ titles are shown in their original form.