On 14 February 1998, Te Papa (housing the national art collection among its taongataonga treasures) opened on Cable Street, Wellington – on time and within budget.
Since then, millions of people have visited Te Papa. Our narrative-based, interdisciplinary, and interactive approach has attracted international attention, as has our commitment to biculturalism.
2001 – 5 million
2004 – 10 million
2008 – 15 million
2012 – 20 million
2015 – 25 million
The history of Te Papa’s collections
Head to Collections Online to read more about our five major collection areas:
Art (link is external)
History (link is external)
Taonga Māori (link is external)
Pacific Cultures (link is external)
Natural History (link is external)
The meaning of Te Papa Tongarewa
Our Māori name, ‘Te Papa Tongarewa’, translates literally to ‘container of treasures’. A fuller interpretation is ‘our container of treasured things and people that spring from mother earth here in New Zealand’.
The name is made up of two classical expressions used in Māori poetry and song:
‘Papa’ can be used to describe:
Papatūānuku (earth mother) – including New Zealand, where the museum is located
a papahou (carved Māori treasure box) and also the beloved homeland – te papa kāinga.
‘Tongarewa’ refers to:
a type of greenstone, such as the mauri (life force) stone on Te Marae
any other kind of treasure, such as a well-loved chiefly person.