Joy of Museums Virtual Tours

Virtual Tours of Museums, Art Galleries, and Historic Sites

Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

The Canterbury Museum is located in Christchurch, New Zealand, in the city’s Cultural Precinct. The museum has an extensive collection of historical, cultural, and natural specimen objects. It also has the world’s most comprehensive selection of Antarctic objects from the heroic age of exploration and discovery.

A Tour of the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

Highlights of the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

  • Moa Skeleton
    • The Moa were giant flightless birds that lived in New Zealand up until about 500 years ago but are now extinct. These two Moa skeletons were found in the Canterbury region, and the larger one is the largest ever found. The Moa were the dominant herbivores in New Zealand’s forest and shrubland, for thousands of years. That is until the arrival of the Māori. Moa extinction occurred around 1300  – 1400, primarily due to overhunting by Māori.
  • South Island Adzebill
    • The South Island Adzebill is extinct and was known only in New Zealand. This skeleton is a composite specimen reconstructed from bones collected at Pyramid Valley Moa swamp in North Canterbury. They became extinct before the arrival of European explorers.
  • Haast’s Eagle
    • This Haast’s Eagle (Harpagornis moorei) skull is of an extinct species of eagle that once lived in the South Island of New Zealand. It is thought to be the Pouakai of Maori legend. In Māori mythology, the pouakai or poukai is a sizeable monstrous bird. In these legends, pouakai kill and eat humans. The myth is now thought to refer to the real but now extinct Haast’s eagle.
  • Canoe Bailer – Tiheru
    • This Canoe Bailer (also called Tiheru) is made of totara wood and is carved with a human face on the body and a manaia figure on the handle. This totara wood tiheru is a water scoop for bailing out a canoe. The Manaia figure on the handle is a mythological creature in Māori culture and is a common motif in Māori carving. The Manaia is usually depicted as having the head of a bird, the tail of a fish, and the body of a man. It is also sometimes depicted as a bird, a serpent, or a human figure in profile.
  • Antarctic Sledges
    • These four Antarctic Sledges are icy and snow land vehicles with a smooth underside, relatively narrow, longitudinal runners that travel by sliding across cold snow surface. They have been used to transport passengers and or cargo in the Antarctic. Antarctica is Earth’s southernmost continent and contains the geographic South Pole. It is the fifth-largest continent, and nearly twice the size of Australia and about 98% of Antarctica is covered by ice.
  • Maori Pare – Lintel from a Maori Meeting House
    • This Maori Pare or carved lintel is from the doorway of a carved Wharenui. The history of this pare unknown but is attributed based on stylistic heritage to the Whanau-a-Apanui tribe of the eastern Bay of Plenty. A wharenui (literally “big house”) is a communal house of the Māori people of New Zealand. The wharenui is usually called meeting houses in New Zealand English or called whare.
  • Maori Pātaka or Storehouse Panels
    • These panels originated from the front of a carved Maori Pātaka or storehouse. Pātaka storehouses were used to keep preserved food such as fish, birds, Kao, or seed safe from kiore or Pacific rats in winter. A Pātaka is entered through a trapdoor in the floor, the small opening at the front was a window.

Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

  • Name:                  Canterbury Museum
  • Building Style:      Architectural style Gothic Revival
  • Completed:          1882
  • Location:              Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch, New Zealand

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“Turn your face to the sun, and the shadows fall behind you.”
– Maori Proverb

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Photo Credit: GM

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