Te Ara resource team go wild on visit to the Police Museum

Police physical culture class, 1906

Police physical culture class, 1906

A few weeks ago the resource team were very excited to go on a field trip to the New Zealand Police Museum. The Police Museum is part of the Royal New Zealand Police College campus in Porirua, and was first opened to the public in 1996. The museum was re-launched in September 2009, after a complete re-think and re-fit. However, collecting objects began in 1908, when police commissioner Walter Dinnie decided to bring together weapons and other implements used in crimes as teaching resources for the police college. The museum still collects object evidence from criminal cases, as well as social history objects around policing.

We were visiting to find out more about the museum since its re-launch. We were also there to discover whether the Police Museum would be able to help us with resources – images, objects, videos and other media – for our upcoming themes: Social Connections, and Government and Nation. These themes will have entries about such things as youth offending, victims of crime and the police service.

We found potential resources galore – the new galleries are full of fascinating objects and stories. Objects such as illegal gambling paraphernalia taken as evidence, stab-proof vests issued to police officers, and Rhys, the stuffed police dog.

The museum tells the stories of day-to-day community policing, as well as the work of forensic photographers and scientists. It also covers many of New Zealand’s worst crimes: Aramoana shooter David Gray’s weapons are on display, as well as a death mask of one of the Burgess Gang. The museum also looks at events like the Erebus disaster, when New Zealand police were sent to Antarctica to help locate and identify victims.

One highlight was the 1981 Springbok tour protest footage taken by the police. Now on display, it has never been shown to the public before, and it is quite an experience to watch the protests from the other side of the line.

The museum is definitely worth a visit, and you can expect to see some of their wealth of material on Te Ara in the future.

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