The Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira is one of New Zealand's oldest museum. Founded in 1852, the museum was formally inaugurated in its current site in 1929. It narrates the story of New Zealand, its place in the Pacific, and its people. The museum is also a war memorial for Auckland and houses one of New Zealand's three national heritage libraries.
The museum's collections incorporate military history, social history, local history, natural history and decorative arts. These are displayed through a range of permanent and temporary exhibitions, and on the museum's website. The exhibitions are themed and cover New Zealand's involvement in conflict, its natural history and ecological development and the arrival of Europeans. It also has three permanent galleries that explore its globally significant collection of Maori artefacts.
'He Taonga Māori' (or the Maori Court) is the gallery that greets visitors when they enter the museum's ground floor. This exhibition interprets the past, present and future of the Maori communities in New Zealand using over 1000 objects and a number of original, full-sized Maori buildings, including a meeting house. The collections are used to illustrate everyday Maori life, and range from carved wooden items, to woven textiles and tools. Oral testimonies from members of the Maori community are used to add a further layer of interpretation to the artefacts. A small area of the display discusses the Maori use of slavery, particularly with regards to captives from war.
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