Public help sought for proposed Italian migrant exhibition


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19 June 2007

Waikato Museum is calling upon Hamilton's Italian community to assist in compiling a planned exhibition on migrant Italian families in Hamilton and the Waikato.

Local stories and experiences from Italian migrants in Hamilton and the wider Waikato region will be a critical aspect of the museum's proposed exhibition, that will use as its base the Qui Tutto Bene: The Italians in New Zealand exhibition which has just concluded a two-year season at Te Papa Museum.

Hamilton City Councillor Joe Di Maio who immigrated to New Zealand from Sorrento, Italy in February 1951 initiated the proposed exhibition at Waikato Museum after being part of the planning process for the Qui Tutto Bene exhibition at Te Papa Museum. The brass espresso machine that was a central feature in the Garden Place Gelato Arlecchino store that Cr Di Maio ran for 22 years is one of the exhibits in Qui Tutto Bene.

Cr Di Maio has negotiated with Te Papa Museum to support the Qui Tutto Bene exhibition being developed by Waikato Museum so that local stories from the Waikato region can be built into the exhibition.

Cr Di Maio says there are several Italian migrants in Hamilton and the Waikato with stories to share but the challenge is to identify them.

"The Italian connection with New Zealand goes right back to 1840 when an Italian cartographer on board the Endeavour with Captain Cook drew the first map of New Zealand. Locally, there are around 250 Italians living in Waikato and we have an active Italian community group in Hamilton. This represents a strong pool of people with stories and experiences to share but the challenge is to identify them so their contributions can be captured in the exhibition and shared with the wider community.

"The Qui Tutto Bene was a stunning exhibition at Te Papa and we are thrilled that the concept is being extended to people in the Waikato and Auckland regions. The exhibition at Waikato Museum will provide the added attraction of a specifically local flavour featuring stories of Italian immigration from people within Hamilton and the Waikato. It offers a rare opportunity for these stories to be shared and heard by a wider audience. I strongly encourage anyone with such stories to share to come forward and give them a voice through the exhibition."

Waikato Museum has previously launched a number of exhibitions focussed on different ethnic communities in Hamilton. These include exhibitions on the Chinese Poll Tax, Being Irish, the Korean community exhibition, Wrapped and the acclaimed Rare View: A glimpse into Hamilton's Somali Community.

Waikato Museum director Kate Vusoniwailala says that the proposed Italian community exhibition presents a great opportunity to share unique experiences and Italian culture with the wider community.

"Waikato Museum is committed to hosting exhibitions which provide an opportunity to better understand and appreciate our diverse ethnic communities in Hamilton. Through the Qui Tutto Bene exhibition, we want to honour the Italian community here and throughout New Zealand by telling the stories that they hold dear or that have been passed down through many generations of Italian families and descendants who have made their home in Hamilton and the Waikato."

Those who are living within the Waikato and have an Italian migrant story to tell are invited to contact Crystal Ardern, concept leader Social History at: (07) 838 6572 or email: .

NAME: Kate Vusoniwailala
DESIGNATION: Waikato Museum Director
TEL (DIRECT): 0 7 838 6709
MOBILE: 021 620 098
FAX (DIRECT): 0 7 838 6571
NAME: Naomi Reynolds
DESIGNATION: Communication Advisor
TEL (DIRECT): 0 7 838 6726
MOBILE: 027 413 3448
FAX (DIRECT): 0 7 838 6761
Page reviewed: 19 Jun 2007 12:00am