Museum, Gallery sights in Pacific
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Kawhia's cute waterside museum is a modest but engaging affair, with lots of local history, nautical and Maori artefacts, and regular art exhibitions. It doubles as the visitor information centre.
This impressive regional museum has artfully presented displays on early Maori and European settlerment in the area: taonga (treasures) of local Maori trace their lineage back to the Mataatua canoe. The art gallery presents a varied program of NZ and international exhibitions. It's rumoured to be relocating: call the number if it's not where it's supposed to be.
This outstanding museum occupies a grand Tudor-style edifice. It was originally an elegant spa retreat called the Bath House (1908): displays in the former shower rooms give a fascinating insight into some of the eccentric therapies once practised here, including 'electric baths' and the Bergonie Chair.
A gripping 20-minute film on the history of Rotorua, including the Tarawera eruption, runs every 20 minutes from 9am (not for small kids – the seats vibrate and the eruption noises are authentic!). The fabulous new Don Stafford Wing houses eight object-rich galleries dedicated to Rotorua's Te Arawa people, featuring woodcarving, flax weaving, jade, interactive audiovisual…