Te Papa National Museum is the No.1 tourist attraction throughout the whole of New Zealand, with in excess of 1.5 million visitors passing through the doors on an annual basis – an impressive number indeed when considering that the population of New Zealand stands at a modest 4.5 million.
As you make your way through more than 45 fascinating exhibitions, it’s easy to see why this fantastic museum continues to draw tourists and locals alike, in their droves.
Te Papa recently underwent an accessibility audit, scoring 86% in the process. Only two key areas raise questions for accessibility reasons, one being the low number of stand-alone disabled toilets (there is only one on the 3rd floor) and the inaccessible nature of the traditional Marae’s which can be found on the 4th floor. One Marae happens to be the oldest Marae still standing in the country – built in the 19th century – and is a truly beautiful structure to behold. Personally, I feel there is little room for complaint in terms of access for the Marae, as to create access would result in the defacement of such a sacred building.
Whilst visiting Te Papa I had the utmost pleasure of being shown around on an ‘accessible tour’ by a great man named Bruce Roberts. The tours are often the brain child of Bruce himself, and is an area which he takes immense pride in. I reveled in delight as Bruce explained how he can cater for any form of disability, providing an engaging and satisfying experience for all.
Not only can Bruce cater for the visitors with autism, by inviting them to take a tour after hours – where lighting and sounds are toned down especially, but he is now able to boast interactive tours for the blind after taking some training courses in how to provide verbal descriptions.
“Being able to verbally describe a piece of art to a blind person seemed nerve-wracking at first, but I’m so happy to find that I have a natural gift for it. The first time I had a blind person tell me they would ‘see the painting’ thanks to my words, was honestly one of the most moving experiences I have ever had” – Bruce Roberts.
Both Te Papa and Bruce resoundingly claim that they can accommodate any visitors individual needs – all they ask is for a little forewarning for the more intricate of care needs.
I am also thrilled to report that Bruce’s fantastic efforts are in the offing to be rolled out across more of Wellington’s main attractions and at Museums in varying areas of the country. Bruce himself is also playing an instrumental role in designing and implementing accessible tours within the city.
It’s hard not to give Te Papa National Museum a 10/10 for intriguing exhibits and wonderful access all round. I haven’t even had time to touch upon the fact that Te Papa is by far the coolest museum I have ever had the good fortune of visiting!
For more information on this brilliant free museum, check out the website by clicking HERE!