Thursday, December 15, 2011

Merry Christmas from Ruru!

Your Ruru team wishes you a fabulous festive season and encourages you to bring all your family members in to do a Ruru scavenger hunt during the holidays!

The scavenger hunts and new Ruru Trail ... for curious young owls have been stocked up in preparation ...

It's hard to believe the scavenger hunts have been in use for nearly a year now ... and in that time, over 2,200 have been completed by Ruru fans.  If this rain keeps up, we'll probably get through the 250 we printed today in a matter of days!

After a well deserved Christmas break, the Ruru team will be figuring out a way to extend personalised label writing to the general public.  So for those of you who have friends or family who are DYING to get their hands on an orange Ruru badge, tell them to watch this space!  Oh, and you can write a new label too!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Curious young owls ... this one's for you!

Do the new Ruru trail and you can be this happy too!

Finally, it's here!  "What's here?" we hear you ask ...

Smiling kids?

Happy faces?

A lack of frazzled parents??


Like all good museum explorers, Oliver loves Meg

The new Ruru Trail ... for curious young owls! is here and ready to introduce preschoolers to the delights of Puke Ariki's displays.  And what would a trail for young kids be if it didn't feature Meg, our famous Megalodon shark??!! 

We've got to start with a HUGE shout out to Linley Wellington and Glen Skipper ... their experience with rampaging young museum goers, not to mention raising a kid or two, was invaluable in shaping the trail.  As Glen says, Ruru is all about helping visitors "experience the magic", whether they're 2 years old or 2 years away from retirement.

So ... the new trail aims to familiarise preschoolers and their carers with the galleries and help under 5's explore the objects on display.  What colour are the duck's feathers?  How would you attach an anchor stone to a boat?  What do you have at home that is soft and fuzzy like Kiwi feathers?  And why is Geoff on his hands and knees again??

He's an artist you know ...

It's just part of our rigorous testing process is all!  After we put Geoff through his paces, we moved on to a group of unsuspecting (but very cute) under 5's.  They looked, they discussed, they made rubbings ...

How many ancestors can YOU see?

... and then they got their very own Ruru stickers!  Hannah Leahy's delightful son Oliver models the goods below:

So if you know a preschooler who wants to check out some amazing objects, or a carer who wants their sanity to remain intact during a visit to the museum, introduce them to the Ruru Trail ... for curious young owls!  Spread the word!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

With spring comes yellow Ruru badges ...

It's here!  No, not spring ... though that's here (but it may not feel like it!).  No, not daylight savings ... though that's definitely here too.  We're talking about the new I Digress ... on coming to my senses scavenger hunt! 

Just like our other four I Digress ... scavenger hunts, the new yellow hunt can be picked up from the Visitor Hosts' desk in the foyer of the North Wing.  Unlike the others, this scavenger hunt focusses solely on the North Wing, taking visitors through Taranaki Life, Takapou Whariki and Taranaki Naturally.  So if you've got 18 children with you and the idea of traversing across the whole of Puke Ariki fills you with horror, this is the scavenger hunt for you!

We're still in the process of developing a Ruru scavenger hunt (or trail) for the littlest of the little ones, which we're creating in collaboration with the Education team.  Just as we promised, Glen Skipper and Linley Wellington have been 'getting down', checking out what those knee-high to a grasshopper actually see in the museum.  Here's some photographic evidence of their commitment to the cause ...

Bubble, bubble, that looks like trouble!

Glen and Linley come face to face with an underwater monster

Glen is captivated by a captive bunny

Your Ruru team hopes to have the trail for preschoolers ready in the next month or so.  After an intensive test on a preschool poppet or two, we'll unleash our newest Ruru effort on the (hopefully not entirely unsuspecting!) public, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, get your 'spring' on and try out our daffodil-coloured scavenger hunt!!! 

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's a Ruru road test!

Lakshmi Iyer's fantastically talented son Adith seemed like the perfect person to road test our new Ruru scavenger hunt, so we put him through his paces this afternoon.  Here he is roaming the North Wing, showing us how it's done ...

The new scavenger hunt has the theme of coming to your senses ... and the clues involve all sorts of museum-inspired sights, sounds, smells, tastes and (though you're not normally allowed to do this in museums) touch!  Just like the other I Digress ...  scavenger hunts, the new one follows our fabulous Ruru personalised label trail, featuring labels written by our equally fabulous staff.

After doing the hunt in record time, we awarded Adith with the only yellow Ruru badge yet  made.  See, he looks pretty happy about it!

Following a few tweaks and a short wait for some yellow paper to arrive, we'll be releasing the I Digress ... on coming to my senses scavenger hunt to the public.  So if you know any avid hunters that can't wait for a chance to collect a different coloured Ruru badge, tell them to keep an eye out for our sensational new scavenger hunt!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What colour will the new ones be??

Your Ruru team is at it again ... new scavenger hunts are under development!  

Over 1,600 scavenger hunts have been done since January, so we figured it was high time we provided our enthusiastic hunters with a new challenge.

We've been roaming the galleries once more, composing clues and thinking of imaginative ways to get visitors from one Ruru label to another.  A new theme has emerged and a new colour will too ... 

Glen Skipper and Linley Wellington will be putting their vast experience with young children to good use by helping to develop a scavenger hunt specially for pre-school kids.  If you see them crawling around the galleries on their knees, they're probably just trying to get a kids-eye view on our displays!

The new scavenger hunts will focus on Ruru labels in the North Wing.  Feedback suggests some people struggle with moving across the whole of Puke Ariki to complete the hunts ... I guess if you have three strollers, seven kids, 14 bags of shopping, a dog and a grandma, it's probably a fair point!

We'll keep you posted on when the new hunts will be ready for you (or your little ones) to try ... and when a new colour of Ruru badge will be on offer!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Here they are ... the two faces of Stranger Than Fiction!  Wearing the hat she made during Hoani Eriwata's Museum Madness workshop on Saturday, Adrienne Cessford - exhibition host for STF - poses with the poster girl of the show, Majesty.  Don't they look regal??!!

Majesty has proven to be an incredibly popular feature of Stranger Than Fiction.  According to Adrienne, she is probably the most written about object in the show.  Small children seem to think she is some sort of dinosaur mouse ... when asked why she's wearing a dress, they says she's the queen of dinosaur mice!  A totally logical answer if you ask me.

So here's a couple of our favourite labels for Majesty, in case you missed them in the show:

A big shout out to Adrienne, who has done an exceptional job with welcoming people into the exhibition and encouraging people to get into the spirit of label writing (backed up by on-call hosts Juliet, Patricia and Alice ... thanks guys!).  She has also done a brilliant job assisting with the STF events and capturing all sorts of useful statistical information that we'll be using to evaluate the exhibition once it's finished.

On that note, it's the show's FINAL DAYS!  The exhibition closes on Sunday so it's your last chance to have a bit of a chuckle over the labels and write your own imaginative offering.  Get down there and cut loose ... Ruru dares ya!            

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The ick factor takes over ...

Who knew Alice Franklin and Nicole Berry would be so at home in full body jumpsuits, playing around with eyeballs, exploding volcanoes and icky gloop??

Last Saturday (16 July), they treated a room full of young Puke Ariki visitors to an icky, mucky experience of a lifetime.  Inspired by Stranger Than Fiction's taxidermied and preserved specimens, they spent weeks creating all sorts of goodies that could be put into jars.  There were eyeballs, cauliflower for brains, amazing expanding balls and painted potatoes complete with pipe cleaner arms and legs.  Guaranteed to freak out any mother! 

After exhibition host Adrienne Cessford took the kids down into the show for a look around, they came back to the Education Centre and put their minds to the task of creating the freakiest looking jars they could possibly produce.  Looks like fun!:


There was even a paper mache volcano with plastic farm animals, fences and flowing lava!  It was made especially for the event by Discover It's own TeAo, who wanted to get in on the creative fun.  And the kids certainly seemed to be impressed:

Some sort of crazy, gloopy madness was served up in a paddling pool and the kids didn't seem to need any encouragement to get their hands dirty:

The workshop not only provided all sorts of hands-on fun for its young participants, but it also showcased the skills of the talented staff we have at Puke Ariki.  Nicole said it was fantastic to be able to put her early childhood teaching skills to good use, and the artistically inclined Alice said any excuse to paint potatoes was good by her!

Congratulations to the ladies for the tremendous effort put into their first Icky Things in Jars workshop.  Don't forget there is still a chance to get your young one in on the fun ... their second workshop is on Saturday 30 July!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Make the most of it!

'Better Than Beatrice' hat making workshop seen through the wet specimen case

Stranger Than Fiction is just about to enter its final two weeks and they're likely to be busy, what with school holidays and all.  Visitors have been enjoying some fabulous hands-on workshops in the exhibition space, inspired of course by the wonders on display.  The Better Than Beatrice hat making workshop, run by local artist Dale Copeland, resulted in a Mary Rutherford one-off that definitely rivalled Philip Treacy's Royal wedding creation for Princess Beatrice!

Mary's unique headwear was made out of a straw hat and was given some incredible embellishments and fine feather touches.  Hat making was also the order of the day for the Museum Madness workshop, run by Puke Ariki educator Erin Flanigan, on 18 June.  Salvador Brebner and Daisy Johnson certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves as they created hats inspired by the exhibition and wrote accompanying labels. 

The hats from the workshop are still on display in Stranger Than Fiction ... pop over and check them out!

This Saturday's Icky Things in Jars workshop is filling up fast, but there is another one on Saturday 30 July if your young one misses out this weekend.  We also have a second Museum Madness workshop on offer on Saturday 23 July.  Tell all your friends!

Time is running out for Stranger Than Fiction label writing ... unleash those creative impulses and write us a story to rival all others!!!  And if you haven't already, don't forget you can check out some of the label highlights on Puke Ariki's Flickr account:

On other Ruru business, we're delighted to see that the I Digress ... scavenger hunts are getting more and more popular.  So far over 1,300 scavenger hunts have been undertaken by intrepid Puke Ariki visitors.  No doubt there are many a proud Ruru badge wearers out there in the community!  Your Ruru team is just starting to contemplate writing some new scavenger hunts, so watch this space ...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Label writing on steroids: it's 'Stranger Than Fiction'!

(photo credit: Virginia Winder)

Label writing has officially gone to a whole new level with Puke Ariki's new temporary exhibition, Stranger Than Fiction!  Some staff were caught in the throes of storytelling at the opening on 12 May - either that or the flash blinded Gerard, hence his 'deer caught in headlights' impression!!!

If we do say so ourselves, the show is looking amazing - very theatrical with red walls, velvet pillows, gold lettering and spotlights abounding.  All of the objects in the exhibition are displayed without explanatory labels ... so what are they?  YOU TELL US!

And so people have!  The label boards have been overflowing with amazingly inventive stories, astute observations or pun-tastic plays on words.  Here are a few of our favourites:

Is that a threat??

 The Royal Wedding has certainly been a theme ...

Who doesn't love a pun from a 10 year old??

If you haven't already, get yourselves over there to check it out.  It's not every day you get to write a completely fictitious label about a collection object and display it in an exhibition ... make the most of it!

And if you can't make it to the actual exhibition, you can check out our Stranger Than Fiction set on Puke Ariki's Flickr page: 

Thanks to everyone who helped get Stranger Than Fiction on the floor (with special thanks to Kate Boocock!), and to the staff who helped 'seed' the exhibition on the opening night.  You're AWESOME!

Ruru strikes again

Turns out it's an arduous job being involved in the installation of Ruru personalised labels!  This fact is evidenced by Geoff Parker's rather compromising position as he cleans the inside of the glass case Mikaere Gardiner's label features in.

Despite my tardiness in blogging about the new round of labels, they are up and ready to enjoy!  On the launch night (12 May ... yes, I know, ages ago now!), we had photographs of label writers projected in the temporary exhibition gallery.  Just to give you a taste, here are a few of the faces responsible for the writing of these fabulous musings.

Andrew poses with his wooden rulers

Don't just wait for the lift ... read Dale's label!

So, to give you a rundown, here is the list of new labels and their whereabouts:

In Taranaki Life
Clare O'Connell wrote about the Janet & John books
Cameron Curd wrote about the dentist display
Pam Murdoch wrote about the leather strap
Gerard Beckingsale wrote about a transistor radio
David Harrop wrote about Carrington's chain
Lucy MacFarlane wrote about the cheese display
Jill McKillop wrote about Frank Mace's New Zealand Cross
Mike Nightingale wrote about the survey pegs

In Taranaki Naturally
Te Maari Barham wrote about the clay doorstop dog
Sarah Ede wrote about the 'Wreaking Havoc' display
Karen Moratti-Longstaff wrote about a monarch butterfly

In Takapou Whariki
Mikaere Gardiner drew a graphic representation of a hei tiki
Lisa Tamati wrote about the Kahu toi

In the Taranaki Research Centre
Bill Howard wrote about the camera display
Virginia Winder wrote about the Wells enlarger
Christine Nana wrote about the money in the TSB Bank display

In Discover It!
TeAo Katene wrote about the small Maori kite
Lakshmi Iyer wrote about Maori musical instruments

In the South Wing
Andrew Moffat wrote about the wooden rulers in a drawer below the 398's, level 1
Dale Cousens wrote about the sculpture under the stairs by the lift, ground floor

(disclaimer: sorry about the lack of macrons, I can't figure out how to put them into the blog template!)

What an amazing array of labels.  Check 'em out!!!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Get your strange on!

What's that?  A Magritte bowler hat being taken for a walk???  Stranger Than Fiction is in the run up to final installation and all manner of important things are being worked on.

Missie has been busy welding stuff ...

Leonie has been stinking out the place with spray paint ...

... and Duncan has been vandalising things with his trusty hacksaw!

So far we have had over sixty RSVP's for the Stranger Than Fiction opening and Ruru label launch ... it's gonna be good!  If you haven't already, please RSVP by the end of Tuesday 10 May if you want to secure your food, drink and label writing rights!!!

It's only days away ... see you there!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Preparations are underway!

The Stranger Than Fiction branding has been signed off and posters featuring all manner of unusual and uncommon things are due to start popping up around town.  Doesn't Majesty look incredible??!!

Leonie Smith, who is working for the Exhibitions Team, has been putting her considerable artistic skill and imaginative powers into action as she starts to tackle the mount making requirements for the show.  Here she is pondering over ideas, taking inspiration where she can:

We can testify to the fact that she is doing an AMAZING job and will be displaying some of the Heritage Collection's treasures in ways you could never imagine!

It seems all manner of crazy things happen when you pull these kinds of delights out of the collection.  Objects get mis-labelled as lights:

And wooden hands seem to attack each other with Stanley knives ...

All this and more awaits you on Thursday 12 May from 6pm!  Drop by, down a drink, have a nibble and a natter, marvel at all the magnificent objects on display and WRITE A LABEL!  How often do you get to make up completely fictitious stories about collection objects??  Make the most of it!

And don't forget our fabulous Ruru personalised label writers!  We will be celebrating their literary efforts, patting them on the back and generally admiring them and their wonderfulness (if that's even a word ... I just checked '' and it seems to suggest it is!).


Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Sorry we've been out of touch for so long!  We had a few things to sort out before enlightening you about our newest Ruru project, but we're good to go now ...

Ruru is happy to announce a brand new project, presented to you in conjunction with Team Heritage.  Label writing is going fictitious!!!

Image courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

We've borrowed a brilliant exhibition concept from the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney and adapted it for Puke Ariki.  In 2009, the Powerhouse staged an exhibition called The Odditoreum.  It involved pulling an intriguing range of 'odd' objects out of the museum's collection and inviting children's author Shaun Tan to write completely fictitious labels for each object.  The museum then invited visitors to write their own imaginative labels and display them for other visitors to enjoy.

Image courtesy of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

The Odditoreum was incredibly successful and resulted in some spectacularly imaginative feats of label writing.  We thought, "that sounds good enough for us!"  So we have adapted the idea for Puke Ariki, choosing a range of unusual, unexplained and uncommon objects from the Heritage Collections.  They will be displayed in the main temporary exhibition gallery while all the foyer redevelopment kerfuffle is going on.  Like in The Odditoreum, the public will be encouraged to write fictional labels about our collection objects.  In case the title of this blog didn't give you a clue, the exhibition is called Stranger Than Fiction and will be opening on Thursday 12 May 2011 from 6pm until 7.30pm

Instead of inviting a famous author to write imaginative labels to 'seed' the exhibition, we thought we would extend that courtesy to YOU!!!  You guys have been writing AMAZING object labels, so who needs a children's author to get us started??!!  After the success of the last Ruru launch, we figured you all needed another excuse to get together.  Therefore, we are inviting you (plus partners & kids!) to come on down to the temporary exhibition gallery on Thursday 12 May, have a drink and help us write some fanciful labels to get Stranger Than Fiction underway. 

It will also be an opportunity to recognise and celebrate our new round of personalised label writers ... we haven't forgotten about you, we promise!  AND it was going to be the temporarily displaced iSITE's housewarming party, but word on the street is their move into the temporary exhibition gallery has been postponed by a few weeks.  But we can still have a drink in their honour anyway!

So join us on Thursday 12 May to marvel at our amazingly unusual collection objects and to write us some awesome labels.  Let your imagination run riot ... the stranger the better!

(and here's just a little taste to whet your appetite):

What is it???

What is it used for???

Eeeek!!!  That looks scary!
(or at least Stranger Than Fiction!)