When I arrived in Wellington, New Zealand on July 7, 2018 I did not know what to expect. My expectations were quite high because IT’S NEW ZEALAND; do I need to explain more? I arrived a couple of days earlier than my classmates and professors. I did this to get the lay of the land and to decompress from my ordinary life, a life filled with ups and downs and a whole lot of smiles. But mainly I arrived early to be bold–to be the person I am deep down inside and not let my anxiety get the best of me. Another reason was to avoid feeling exhausted when the program started. As I slept, two days flew by without a whisper, and I only cruised the land a couple of times and ate some really good food. Sweet Mothers’s Kitchen was my go to for just about anything: coffee, breakfast, southern food and fries. It wasn’t until my classmates started to arrive that I had the urgency to do things other than eat and decompress. I was starting to feel and act bolder than usual. My personality was full-go color, and I was bolder than ever to try new things. Why is that? Maybe it’s because I wasn’t alone in a whole new country. Fast-forward to when a vibrant classmate, Kourtni, and I met up to tour the local art museum, Te Papa.
The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa is New Zealand’s national museum. Te Papa, or “Our Place,” opened in 1998 after the merging of the National Museum and the National Art Gallery. The full meaning of the museum’s name is “container of treasures.” And some of the main treasures that have been contained or collected are housed in these areas: Arts, History, Taonga Māori, Pacific Cultures, and Natural History.
I went to Te Papa twice, and both times it was a unique experience. It’s recommended that visitors go more than once because this museum is huge. If you don’t want to spend a whole day there, just break it up into segments. You shouldn’t have to worry about the cost to get in because it is FREE. We all like free, don’t we? The first time I went I was with Kourtni, and it was awesome. We escaped the rain, but we got to see some of the coolest art exhibits that I have seen in a long time. My favorite of all was made out of acrylic paint and stainless steel (picture 1), and the other of ribbons and sanded terrarium (picture 2). Seeing these exhibits made me reflect on choices I have made before coming and decisions I will need to make when I return home. These colorful exhibits made me think: how do I live colorfully? How do I express my pain in a colorful way? All I could think about was how can I color my life with a bold font!
The second time we went was as a class, and we experienced a private tour of the museum. Luckily for Kourtni and me, we toured areas that we had not seen on our first visit such as the special collections library and the floor decorated with teachings from Māori culture and history. Te Papa “retains deep ancestral links to the indigenous Māori people. The Museum recognises the partnership that was created by the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, te Tiriti o Waitangi, in 1840” . They have a copy of the treaty right in the entrance of the private library. During this visit, my anxiety got the best of me and I knew right then in there that this is how I insert the bold font into my life. I had to get through this episode and continue to be colorful: joyful, positive and loving. It was a hard transition, but while learning about the history of the Māori people, I think it was only fitting that I toughen up and survive.
I had an amazing time at Te Papa, and if you’re ever in Wellington, this is definitely something to add to your itinerary. It is fun, interactive, child friendly and accessible–all the things you need in an engaging museum. According to Wikipedia, 1.5 million people visit yearly. I highly suggest adding to that number. You will walk out a different person with a new meaning of life. I did. I am now colored boldly (changed spiritually). I can honestly walk away from this visit and say it helped me at one of the most confusing times in my life. I ask you, what has colored you bold?
Picture 1. A shadowed Kourtni looking at the Helen Calder work, Everything in its right place (Arrangement for seventeen colour groups, 17/51).
Picture 2. Tiffany Singh’s rainbow-colored installation, Indra’s bow, 2017–18.