Curiosities displayed

Lawrence Tuapeka Museum’s Jess Weichler holds a rare pipe bowl displayed at the recent Lost and...
Lawrence Tuapeka Museum’s Jess Weichler holds a rare pipe bowl displayed at the recent Lost and Found exhibition. PHOTO: NICK BROOK
The ever-innovative Lawrence Tuapeka Goldfields Museum wound down another busy year with a collection of local curios at the "Lost and Found" exhibition last month.

Of particular interest to visitors was a clay tobacco pipe moulded into the shape of a Māori warrior’s head, found on a property which for many years was home to Dominican nuns who ran St Patrick’s School.

"These are known as ‘figural pipes’ because the bowl is shaped to represent a figure like Queen Victoria or, to be seasonally appropriate, St Nicholas," museum manager and education officer Jess Weichler said.

During the Victorian era unglazed clay pipes were cheap, making them a common accessory.

The exhibition was inspired by a donation of bottles found under floorboards during a house renovation.

"With Lawrence’s many heritage homes, we knew there must be more objects found under similar circumstances, so we put a call out to our community."

Eleven items were contributed to the exhibition by Tuapeka residents including lemonade bottle stoppers re-purposed into marbles, floor nails from the former Bank of New Zealand, a doll’s mug, and detailed letters from a New Zealand Rail employee protesting his transfer to Middlemarch.

"The exhibition was a wonderful opportunity to shed light on homes, objects and former residents that aren’t well known," Ms Weichler said.

"Working with the objects, I reflected on what we might unintentionally leave behind for future generations to marvel at in 100 years.

"We are grateful to the Tuapeka community for their willingness to lend their treasures and stories."

The museum hosted a number of community workshops and a record number of school pupils discovered local history this year.

It also ran the popular, annual Grazing to Goldfields tour, taught visitors vintage games on Heritage Day, and had an increase in volunteers to help manage the collection and run the organisation.