Thursday, 2 July 2009


On our recent visit to Christchurch we spent a rainy afternoon at the Canterbury Museum, a highly recommendable place if you are visiting the city, with lots of information about the first Maori and European settlers, and a pretty cool interactive exhibition about the body (sometimes I wish I was 7 again...).

Well, there we came across a replica of one of New Zealand's most famous houses: Fred and Myrtle's Paua Shell House. There were lots of people in the queue to see the house, and we had no idea what the story behind this place was, so we joined them just in time for the next show to begin. So we entered this small cinema where we learnt about Fred and Myrtle's collection of paua shell and other kiwiana stuff.

Fred and Myrtle Flutey spent their whole life together in their small house in Bluff collecting paua shells from the sea, polishing them and hanging them on the living room walls. Along with the paua, they gathered and displayed all sorts of items and icons from New Zealand's pop culture and heritage (what people here call kiwiana-generally seen as kitsch, but loved by everyone). They opened their house to the public and it became one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area until their recent death some years ago.

The collection has now been brought back to life thanks to the Fluteys' family and the museum, and here you can see Phil with his cheeky smile in the living-room replica we saw:

And...yes, polishing all those shells is a lot of work!

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