Friday, April 23, 2010

Collection of... Lady Penelope (Putiputi) Simcock

The Museum of True History is currently undertaking a Residency in the thermal climes of Rotorua. Staff have relocated for a two month period to research and recreate elements of the collections of Lady Putiputi in the hope that the process may shed some light on this fascinating woman.

Lady (Putiputi) Penelope Simcock was a collector of ephemera and items related to New Zealand Tourism, and in particular she was interested in representations of Maori for European audiences.

Very little reference to Lady Putiputi (as she was known) remains. A small notebook discovered in 1987 contained a detailed inventory of her collections. Included in the listings were large collections of photographs, footage and artefacts from New Zealand cinema, including rare rehersal footage of the seminal dance scene from the British produced movie The Seekers, which was filmed in the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Also among her collections were a number of rare artefacts, Maori and European, which were made specifically for the tourist market and featured westernised representations of Maori imagery and subject matter. Unfortunately following the uncovering of the notebook it was also dicovered that Lady Putiputi’s descendant who had inherited the bulk of the collections had donated much of it to opportunity shops unaware of its intrinsic value as a snapshot of New Zealand cultural history. In later years the notebook was also lost. What has grown in its place is a mythology surrounding the content of the collection which may well have been one of the most valuable collections of its kind in the world.

These collections will be on display in Rotorua on the following dates:

Model Pa (Marquettes and Drawings)
Rotorua Arts Village - Te Whare Toi
May 24 - June 7, 2010

Road to Kariri
Waiariki Institute of Technology (I Block Atrium)
May 29 - June 25
Opening May 28, 6pm

Traditional Paint Whare, 2010 (Courtesy of MOTH)

Sulphur Whare, 2010 (Courtesy of MOTH)

Image top: Soda Whare, 2010 (Courtesy of MOTH)


  1. great blog
    the metaphorical tone and stance you invoke is a neat approach to something as bound up with power relations and hegemony as is 'collecting'

  2. MOTH create some truly beautiful work.