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New Zealand's 20th century history 

Aotearoa New Zealand changed dramatically in the 20th century. Discover the events that united and divided us, and shaped our lives today. Decide whether New Zealand really is a ‘slice of heaven’.

Exhibition floor plan1. International relations
2. Social welfare & the state
3. Māori in the 20th century
4. Diversity & civil rights

  • The papers will all report another glorious success, and no one except those who actually took part will know any different.
    Private Leonard Hart, Passchendaele, 1917
  • I want to see humanity secure against poverty, secure in illness or old age.
    Michael Joseph Savage, New Zealand Prime Minister, 1938
  • The British flag is our protection; without belonging to the Empire where would New Zealand be?
    Richard Seddon, New Zealand Premier, 1899
  • It is wiser to put up a fence at the top of a precipice than to maintain an ambulance at the bottom.
    Dr Truby King, Plunket founder
  • We distant sons desire to ... prove to the world how dear to us is Britain’s name and greatness.
    Sir Joseph Ward, New Zealand Prime Minister, 1909
  • It is not your penis we have been envying all these years, but your freedom.
    Sue Kedgley, feminist, 1972
  • The United States serviceman is a fine chap, a genuine friend, and above all an intensely loyal soldier.
    Editorial, The Evening Post, September 1942
  • We excitedly ran through the new house ... Light streamed through the curtainless windows ...
    Shirley Redpath, former state-house tenant, 2005
  • We have come far, from city and plain,
    Our health and happiness to regain,
    To strengthen our bodies and free them from pain,
    To live in the health camp way.
    Health camp song, 1940s
  • One, two, three o'clock, four o'clock rock ...
    'Rock Around the Clock', Bill Haley and His Comets, 1954
  • I have a moral objection to the apartheid system and, like most sportsmen, I want less political influence in sport.
    Graham Mourie, All Black captain, 1982
  • Keep the baby in the open air as much as possible ... Nothing is more striking than the marked improvement in colour, tone, condition, and liveliness ...
    Dr Truby King, Plunket founder, 1913
  • We can take pride ... in being nuclear free and in having the strength and independence not to send our young people off to fight in unjust wars.
    Helen Clark, New Zealand Prime Minister, 2005
  • Surely never before has a new year dawned under such a universal cloud of fear, uncertainty, and want.
    H J Kelliher, businessman, 1935
  • A closet is a very dangerous place to be ... The more visibility we have, the safer, the stronger our community will be.
    Alison Laurie, activist, 1985

Random object

Fourth test, Eden Park, 1956

Rugby ball 1956, Watts Sports Depot Limited (1935–1959), New Zealand. Purchased 2007. Te Papa

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© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.