Te Papa’s response to critical engagement: quiet, yet arresting

writing by renee

This year, I’ve been at Te Papa on four separate occasions, to respond to the position on militarism in the Pacific implied in the Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibition. On February 4, Dr Pala Molisa and I dropped a banner that temporarily renamed the exhibition. In April, we went to chalk some messages outside the entrance, questioning Te Papa’s noise about Gallipoli in the face of its silence on genocide taking place in the Pacific today. On ANZAC Day, Peace Action Wellington attempted to install a card and plastic sculpture of Archibald Baxter on one of the flagpoles outside the museum, and I went along. Another time I went to write an essay.

The result: two threats of arrest and a deafening silence.

The banner drop was no minor undertaking: we purchased eight lengths of calico, and asked a diligent seamstress to sew them together to a square in a room too small to fold…

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