Tapa image gallery

Tapa at Te Papa 

There's lots of tapa to explore at Te Papa!


Tangata o le MoanaTangata o le Moana

Level 4, Free entry

Tapa is an essential part of Pacific cultures. In this exhibition you'll find:


  • aute (paper mulberry), one of the many imports to New Zealand from the eastern Pacific. The inner bark of the aute plant is used to make tapa.
  • tapa garments made by Cook Islanders in New Zealand for the 1906 New Zealand International Exhibition; ike (tapa beaters); and a tutua (tapa beating anvil).
  • historic photos of Cook Islanders wearing tapa garments.
  • a 6.6-metre-long contemporary Tongan ngatu (tapa) made of vilene, which is a synthetic fibre.

More information on Tangata o le Moana exhibition

PlaNet PasifikaPlanet Pasifika

Level 4, Free entry

A great place to get hands-on with tapa! PlaNet Pasifika is one of Te Papa's Discovery Centres.

  • Have a go at beating tapa with a Tongan ike (tapa beater) and a tutua (anvil).
  • Use a kupesi (rubbing board) to decorate paper in the same way people in Tonga decorate tapa.
  • Touch some tapa before and after it is decorated.
  • Explore drawers of things used to make and decorate tapa and things made with tapa.
  • Find the turtles and fish used as bold patterns on tapa.

More information on Te Papa's Discovery Centres

Blood Earth FireBlood Earth Fire

Level 3, Free entry

Settlers to Aoteaora New Zealand brought many plants and animals with them. The bark of one of these plants, known as aute (the paper mulberry plant), is used to make tapa.

Aute was introduced from the eastern Pacific sometime after 1200 as a source of fibre. Several canoes brought aute, but in the colder climate of New Zealand, it only grew well in a few places.

See dried leaves of aute in Blood, Earth, Fire an exhibition that takes you on an extraordinary journey of discovery through the changing landscape of Aotearoa New Zealand.

More information on Blood, Earth, Fire exhibition