Skip to main content

Celebrate the spirit of the black jersey at Te Papa

New Zealand’s unparalleled legacy of success on the rugby field is being explored in a new exhibition at Te Papa opening on June 2.

Rugby Legends: The Spirit of the Black Jersey tells the stories of Kiwi rugby greats in an exhibition that includes rugby jerseys worn by players from some of New Zealand’s most notable teams, including the World Cup winning All Blacks, Black Ferns and 1905 Originals and trophies currently held by New Zealand teams.

Image of the 1924 All Blacks is courtesy of the New Zealand Rugby Museum via Te Papa.

Te Papa Chief Executive Geraint Martin says the exhibition has been created to explore what is behind the unrivalled record of success of New Zealand rugby.

“New Zealand’s rugby history has become the stuff of legend, and with the upcoming DHL New Zealand Lions Series, what better time to celebrate the country’s rugby prowess.”

New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive, Steve Tew said the exhibition would provide something for everyone.

“As an organisation, NZR is celebrating our 125-year anniversary, so it’s a fitting time to partner with Te Papa to showcase many of the incredible teams and wonderful stories of our game.”

Curator Michael Fitzgerald says the exhibition tells stories about legacy, innovation, rivalry and respect through a series of significant objects that will appeal to rugby fans from across the country and further afield.

Among the displays in the exhibition are four rugby jerseys, each worn by a player from an iconic team to portray the innovative design features: the 1905 Originals jersey worn by Ernie Booth; 1924 Invincibles jersey worn by George Nepia; 1998 Women’s World Cup jersey worn by Dr Farah Palmer; and a 2015 World Cup jersey worn by Richie McCaw.

“These will be complemented by a video touchscreen playing archival footage focusing on the jersey and what it means to play in it,” Fitzgerald says.

The exhibition will include a remembrance panel to honour the rugby players who were killed during World War I, complementing Te Papa’sGallipoli – The scale of our war exhibition.

Four significant cups – the Webb Ellis Cup, Tom French Cup, Dave Gallaher Cup and Women’s Sevens World Cup – will be displayed as a fitting demonstration of New Zealand rugby team’s recent international achievements.

Visitors will have the chance to stand with the All Blacks as they perform a haka though a 360 unique virtual reality experience.

The exhibition also includes iconic imagery over the past few decades from prolific rugby photographer Peter Bush. These show that while the game might change in look and style, the emotion and intensity remains the same.

Te Papa acknowledges the support of New Zealand Rugby, AIG and Samsung.


Updated on 7th July 2017