Wall panel / poupou


One of the worst hit galleries was the Pacific Room. As the photograph (see below) shows it was completely destroyed on 3 May 1941. This gallery was in the basement and museum staff thought it would be safe from the air raids above. The gallery was packed with boxes filled with objects and archives from other parts of the museum and the important Pacific collection was divided into two lots for safety. All of it was destroyed. As many of the museum’s records were also destroyed we still do not know the full extent of what was lost that night. A rare survivor is a postcard that shows a finely carved Maori poupou or wall panel from New Zealand that was in the museum’s collection and on display that night. This object along with many others was burnt up in the Pacific Room fire.