When Auckland alone was plunged into its second Covid-19 lockdown, masks became the order of the day. One staff member in particular, Cataloguing Librarian Nina Whittaker, came up with a plan – could the Museum design our own masks, starring objects from our own collections?

Nina’s idea was shared and teams from across the Museum came together (remotely, at first) to make the masks happen. Fittingly, as the idea was born in mind of one of our librarians, the first design has been crafted using illustrations from the iconic Powell’s Native Animals of New Zealand.

Powell’s Native Animals of New Zealand was originally written by Dr Arthur William Baden Powell CBE, a famous New Zealand naturalist. First published in 1947, the latest edition was refreshed by Dr Brian Gill, who was Auckland Museum’s Land Vertebrates Curator for more than 30 years. Dr Gill still carries out research at the Museum and is a veritable treasure trove of astounding facts, unusual occurrences and seldom-heard stories.

From kiwi to caterpillar, no native animal escapes the pages of this wonderful book. The original Art Deco cover design is pure kiwiana, and a familiar sight in many a New Zealand bach.

Specimens from birds to butterflies have migrated from its pages to the pattern on our masks – the first of several designs. 

Buy the mask in black & teal
Buy the mask in black & white


Native Animals of New Zealand, 1947 by AWB Powell. Auckland War Memorial Museum. QL340 POW.