Fun & games exhibition

Fun & games was a free exhibition of games, books, photos, manuscripts, and more drawn from Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections around the region. It opened on 11 December 2019 and ran until 1 March 2020 at Tāmaki Pātaka Kōrero | Central City Library.

Image: Dennis Beytagh. School journal, number 2 part 2, 1959. School Publications Branch, Education Dept. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections.

What games did your great-great-grandparents play? What are your favourite games to play today? Children of every time, place, and culture have loved to play. Some games endure across the generations and are handed down through families, while others emerge and transform, or are forgotten as technology, society, and childhood change. They in turn help shape our culture and communities and the stories of Tāmaki Makaurau.

Image: Unknown photographer. From: Auckland Kindergarten Association. Photograph album, 1931-1936. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, NZMS 1275.

Image: G B Scott Publications Limited. A group of Māori children playing tī rākau (stick game) at Rotorua, 1960s-1970s. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, 996-429.

Image: Rykenberg Photography. Unidentified girl playing with a hula hoop, 1959. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, 1269-K169-6.

Come into the gallery on Level 2, remember some old games and learn about some new ones. Use the blackboard to leave us a note about games you like. Read the colourful quotes on the walls and an instruction book for board games from 1786, see some 19th century knights on horseback with a royal connection, learn about the hula hoop craze of the 1950s, compare Māori and Pākeha versions of mū tōrere (draughts), and try your hand at putting on a sock puppet show. Listen to playground rhymes and play retro PacMan.

Listen to Harriet Rogers, one of the exhibition curators, discuss what we can expect to see and experience and tell us about some of her favourite items on display.

Listen to the track here

Be sure to check out our free events so that you don’t miss out. You can have a go at sock puppet and kite making, learn with Lego bricks, join the Kōrero bike at Silo Park and score points on the pinball and arcade machines in the library. Tākarokaro mai, and in the words of Maurice Sendak, “Let the wild rumpus start!”

Image: Ron Clark. Carolyn and Pamela Clark playing with dolls on the sand, 1958. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, 1207_1194.

Image: Auckland Weekly News. Making The Most Of The School Holidays, 1937. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, AWNS_19370915-45-1 to AWNS_19370915-45-7.

Image: Unknown photographer. Apples on a string, Papatoetoe, 1964. Courtesy of Stuff Limited. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, Footprints 06670.

Image: Unknown photographer. Playing spacies, Ōtāhuhu, 1981. Courtesy of Stuff Limited. Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections, Footprints 00411.

Watch a short video with more images from the collection:

Author: Dr Natasha Barrett | Senior Curator Archives & Manuscripts

Further reading

Chris van Allsburg. Jumanji. Houghton Mifflin Co, c1981. 

Shirley Burt, Averil Kerslake, Joan Lees, Annette Wells. Recreation then and now: a photographic history for children: toys games and sports. Ashbourne Publishers, 2002. 

Nā Sacha Cotter; nā Josh Morgan ngā pikitia. Te kaihanga māpere. Huia Publishers, 2016. 

Julie Ellis. Marbles. Red Rocket Readers, 2006. 

Camilla Gryski; illustrated by Tom Sankey. Cat's cradle and other string games. Angus & Robertson: 1985.

He mea kōrero nā Bea Hamer; ko te whakamāori nā Henare Everitt; ko nga whakaāhua nā Penny Martin. Te manu aute a Hēmi. Te Rōpū Mahipukakura, Te Tari Mātauranga, 1988. 

Pia Hsiao; Neil Lorimer; Nick Williams. The superbook of games to make and play. Kingfisher, 1987. 

Nā Oho Kaa ngā kōrero; nā Tangi Thrupp ngā whakaahua. Te hanga poi poto. Te Pou Taki Kōrero, c2012.

Compiled by David McGill; illustrated by Philip Brown. I had a squashed banana: Kiwi kids' chants & rhymes. Reed, 1989. 

Introduction by Margaret Mahy; illustrated by Helen Humphries. Kiwi kids' collection. Random House New Zealand, 2001.

Jillian Powell; photographs by Steve Lumb. How to make a sock puppet. Collins, c2010.

Ko ngā kōrero nā Makere Rogers; ko ngā pikitia nā Bob Kerr. Te papa wīra. Te Rōpū Mahipukapukakura, Te Tari Mātauranga, c2003.

Fa'u 'e Maria Samuela; ta fakatata 'e Donovan Bixley; liliu 'e Sione Tu'akoi. Tapili: ko he talanoa 'Otu Motu Kuki mei Nu'u Sila. Naunau ki he Ako', 2006. 

Philip Steele; illustrators, Stefan Chabluk, John James, Joanna Williams. Toys and games. Franklin Watts, 1999.

Eddie and Henry Sunderland. More Eddie's home-made fun. Paul Hamlyn, 1992.

Ruth Thomson. Toys and games. Franklin Watts, c1992.