Exhibitions - Whakakitenga
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taranaki life

While declarations of war or agreement, signed by famous figures, or paintings of those in high office or even letters written by politicians of the day are all valuable historical artefacts, it is in the ordinary, the every-day and the mundane that you will find the true history of a people or a region.

From a child’s toy to a butter mould to a soldiers’ uniform to a teapot, the Taranaki Life gallery contains a treasure trove of items telling the story of the people who have lived, worked and played under the benevolent gaze of te maunga.

Discover how their lives changed and evolved, from the primitive slab hut that the first settlers called home to the ground-breaking technologies employed by the oil and gas industry. Trace how the backbone of Taranaki industry, dairy farming, grew from the simple walk-in milking shed of the 1850s thanks to the extrordinarily innovative nature the region’s farmers seem to hold. The growth of other industries is also charted, from furniture, flax and farm equipment to the more colourful ones such as beer, motorbikes and Swanndris.

The contribution of the huge diversity of the different ethnic and social groups that have made their home here is not forgotton, with displays celebrating the English, Swiss, Dutch and Polish, among others, and telling their stories.

The stories of those who have fought to keep their way of life for their families and neighbours are also featured, from the local Land Wars to conflicts overseas.

The ever-present mountain has also given us fascinating tales of mountaineering cats, the first woman to scale its summit and a besotted lover wooing his future wife with a cape made of the pelts of bush rats who live in its forests.

Come and meet the Taranaki people – you will leave with new friends!

hit the big time!

Taranaki's oil and gas industry is big - with big rigs, big changes, big characters, big benefits and big controversies. The Taranaki Life gallery explores the industry and its history

taranaki life online

Rugby and farming are just two of the major influences in Taranaki life - click to check out some of the related items held in the Puke Ariki Collection!

Plymouth Company Exhibit Now Open in Taranaki Life Gallery

New Plymouth’s founders faced storms, sickness and death. Driven by opportunity and sometimes desperation they sailed from England during the 1840s, gambling it all for a new start. The struggles and triumphs of over 1000 Plymouth Company settlers laid this town’s foundations and reshaped the future of Taranaki, as they built their community in a new land amongst Māori.

This exhibition shares with you their early years in New Plymouth. Come in now to experience their journey through interactive sights, smells and sounds.