TVNZ's new show National Treasures aims to discover the precious objects of national significance that people have in their own homes. Two of the experts you'll see on your screens work here at Auckland Museum. Each week, we'll share other unseen-on-air objects from our collections that expand on the taonga explored in the show.

Watch National Treasures on TVNZ 1 on Sundays at 8.30PM, or catch up On Demand here.

Nina Finigan & Jane Groufsky

Meet our experts

Nina Finigan & Jane Groufsky

Nina Finigan, Curator Manuscripts

In her role as Curator Manuscripts, Nina is responsible for helping to care for, develop and research Tāmaki Paenga Hira’s manuscript, ephemera and oral history collections. This collection is extensive – the manuscript collection alone consisting of an estimated three million documents. These collections are nationally significant and reflect the diversity of the Museum’s wider collections.

Jane Groufsky, Senior Collection Manager (Human History)

Senior Collection Manager Jane Groufsky was also formerly Project Curator of Tāmaki Herenga Waka: Stories of Auckland, a major new permanent exhibition of the people and stories of Auckland. Previous roles have focussed on applied arts and design, and Jane has strong research interests in textiles, fashion and decorative arts, and has published internationally, including contributing to the Ockham NZ Book Awards long-listed Crafting Aotearoa (Te Papa Press 2019). 

In Episode Three, Oscar spoke to Gemma Gracewood about Front Lawn, an avant-garde musical theatre duo who were pivotal in New Zealand's live arts scene. Here, Nina uncovers some punk and new-wave posters that, like Gemma's Front Lawn souvenir pin, distil the manic mood of the Auckland music scene of the time.


As we saw in last week’s episode, the material culture associated with music is a powerful thing. Sharing collective memories of cherished bands, musicians and venues is a vital way we commune with others. Music provides the connective tissue that helps to define the sound, style, fashion, politics and attitude of a generation.


Poster promoting Street Talk performing at H.Q. Rock Cafe, October 27-28, ca. 1970s. Collection of Auckland Museum. EPH-PT-15-155.

More information ›

One way to measure the heartbeat of a city is through its musical history. This selection of posters offers a glimpse into Auckland’s anarchic, door-kicking punk and new-wave scenes that stomped their way into the city’s late ‘70s and early ‘80s musical landscape. This music provided a soundtrack to the city and represents a significant coming of age in Auckland’s musical identity. Bands rose and fell in this environment, often spawning relationships that would grow into other fertile musical collaborations. For example, through Lip Service, drummer Peter Warren met Dave Dobbin, and the pair later formed the iconic New Zealand group DD Smash. 


Black-and-white poster promoting Lip Service, performing at The Gluepot, Ponsonby, Auckland, ca. 1970s. Collection of Auckland Museum. EPH-PT-15-158.

More information ›

These posters also reflect the changing face of Auckland’s built environment. As music scenes changed so did the venues, shedding their previous identities and inhabiting new ones. For example, the iconic Edinburgh Hotel on the corner of Symonds Street and Newton Road has had many identities over its 160 years. For the briefest of moments it was the notorious Liberty Stage, as seen in this Swingers poster. Similarly, venues like HQ Rock Cafe, The Basement (formerly Busby’s Wine Bar), Windsor Castle and The Globe embodied the spirit of this time. Gig venues become much-cherished meeting grounds, not only providing the space to hear and experience music but also acting as cultural melting pots, each with specific significance and its own legacy that long out-lasts their physical iterations.


Poster promoting the Swingers at The Liberty Stage, Edinburgh Castle Hotel, Symonds Street, Auckland. August 2-4, ca. 1980s, EPH-PT-15-157; Poster promoting The Snipes at The Globe bar in Auckland, featuring numerous mug shots of the band members, including Simon Lynch, July 11-14, ca. 1970s, EPH-PT-15-154.

Poster promoting New Zealand band Street Talk performing at Windsor Castle, May 15, ca. 1970s. Collection of Auckland Museum. EPH-PT-15-156.

More information ›

Episode Two saw Helen Dobson Cotsilinis-Andreanatos share an intricate blanket woven by a relative in Greece using New Zealand wool. Here, Jane shares another woollen masterpiece from the Museum's collection.


Last Sunday on National Treasures, we heard from Helen Dobson Cotsilinis-Andreanatos about the precious woven blanket made by her aunt in Greece from a New Zealand fleece. In addition to the personal significance this treasured heirloom holds for Helen, it reflects the importance of the wool industry in New Zealand, and how this has shaped our country’s fortunes. Many of us will also have our own well-loved homegrown woollen item, be it a childhood Kaiapoi travel rug or a luxurious merino-possum throw. And wool has had an enduring role our fashion history: the long-running Benson and Hedges Fashion Design Awards included a Wool Award sponsored by the New Zealand Wool Board.

Bubble dress, 1988. Susan Holmes. AWMM. 1997.49.1

More information ›

I wanted to share an all-time favourite woollen object from our collection here at Auckland Museum – made not from sheep’s wool, but from that of the mohair goat. This spectacular hand-knitted dress by Susan Holmes won the Evening Section of the 1988 New Zealand Mohair Breeders Fashion Awards. Holmes’ ombre-dyed pastel fantasy shows the fuzzy fashion potential of this unique material. This dress came at a time when Holmes was developing her career beyond the bounds of traditional fashion. Her first forays with textile design began in the 1970s with hand printed and dyed outfits sold through Auckland’s Browns Mill Craft Collective. By the 1990s, Holmes was a firm fixture in the World of Wearable Art awards, winning the Supreme Award in 1996.


On the first episode of the series, Nina spoke to Michael Gullery about promotional material for the Hero Party, which sought to empower the gay community in the devastating fight against HIV. Here she shares National Gay Rights Coalition's Gay Pride Week pamphlet.


Community and visibility. These two considerations have been central in the fight for LGBTQI rights in New Zealand and are both expressed on the pages of this unassuming pamphlet...

This Gay Pride Week pamphlet was made by the National Gay Rights Coalition of New Zealand. The coalition was formed in the late 1970s as the push toward decriminalisation of consensual sex between men was gaining social and political traction. Although legal change would not take place until the Homosexual Law Reform Act passed in 1986, the focus in the 1970s had shifted from maintaining secrecy to living with pride. 

Gay Pride Week pamphlet, c. 1970s. National Gay Rights Coalition. AWMM. EPH-PRO-5-7

More information ›

Against the backdrop of widespread agitation for change regarding civil rights and social justice for marginalised groups, there was an emphasis on claiming one's sexuality and living proudly in the open. Organisations like the National Gay Rights Coalition were central in bringing about this shift by creating spaces where community could develop and thrive. They organised events like the one promoted in this pamphlet and also published their own newspaper called Pink Triangle, intended to be a “source of news and feature articles for all Lesbians and Gay men in New Zealand.” All of these activities helped to increase the visibility of gay people New Zealand - forming part of the building blocks that would lead to legal and social reform. 

NGRC was short-lived - by 1983 it had dissolved while other groups emerged to take up the mantle of gay liberation. But, like the Hero magazines discussed in National Treasures, it forms an important part of New Zealand’s protest genealogy and LGBTTIQ+ history.


National Treasures is also an exhibition at Te Papa, on until 18 April 2021. Find out more here.