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Why is Hayden Donnell the way he is? (Photo: Get It to Te Papa)
Why is Hayden Donnell the way he is? (Photo: Get It to Te Papa)

Pop CultureOctober 19, 2023

Will this journalist ever succeed in getting something into Te Papa?

Why is Hayden Donnell the way he is? (Photo: Get It to Te Papa)
Why is Hayden Donnell the way he is? (Photo: Get It to Te Papa)

It’s been five years since the release of The Spinoff’s video series Get It to Te Papa. To celebrate, we look back at five years of Hayden Donnell trying and failing to get the national museum to say yes to his demands.

Every journalist has their white whale. The story of the century that they just can’t quite stand up. For some, catching that white whale would mean a politician being held to account. For others it would mean an overdue change of law. For Hayden Donnell, it meant seeing the Big Fresh animatronic fruit and veges in New Zealand’s national museum, Te Papa.

It’s a funny and not completely ridiculous idea. Why shouldn’t the iconic and scary animatronic veges live in Te Papa? Are they not a beloved cultural artefact that tells part of our recent history? At the time, back in 2017, we all agreed it would make a good op-ed. Perhaps he could get a comment from Te Papa about it to really round out the gag. But Donnell wanted more. He wanted to take them there himself. He wanted to start a petition. He wanted to film the whole thing. He wanted to be a star.

And so: Get It to Te Papa. Six episodes of Donnell and director José Barbosa valiantly attempting to get iconic items into Te Papa. There’s the Big Fresh fruit and veg of course, but also the Waitangi Dildo, the Let’s Gone Warriors sign, the Huntly DEKA sign, the Queen Street Santa and… Suzanne Paul (the human).

Since the show first aired, the world has changed. We had a global pandemic, two general elections, a short non-recession and a real cost of living crisis. Amid all that, one thing has remained constant: Donnell is still going on about Te Papa and his quest to get things in it.

Will it ever happen? We have to believe it will. Consider this one last push. Put the Big Fresh animatronic fruit and veges in Te Papa please. Or put Hayden Donnell in so he’ll stop talking about it.

Episode one: The hunt for the Waitangi Dildo

Hayden Donnell and José Barbosa embark on a desperate quest to find the Waitangi Dildo – the novelty sex toy which became a worldwide media sensation when it was hurled at a New Zealand member of parliament.

Episode two: Whatever happened to the Big Fresh animatronic veges?

Hayden and José turn their focus to some beloved heirlooms of a now-defunct New Zealand supermarket chain – the Big Fresh animatronic fruit and veges, which enthralled and scared generations of Kiwi kids.

Episode three: Who owns the Huntly DEKA sign?

Hayden and José travel to Huntly to persuade the locals to give up their cherished landmark – the last remaining DEKA sign in Aotearoa.

Episode four: Where did the Queen Street Santa go?

Hayden and José embark on a quest to gift Tāmaki Makaurau’s giant Santa – once named the creepiest ornament in the world – to the national museum.

Episode five: Can we capture the essence of Suzanne Paul?

Hayden and José seek the help of a household name, Suzanne Paul. They soon realise that they should capture the essence of the national icon and her thousands of luminous spheres and get it to Te Papa.

Episode six: The man behind the Let’s Gone Warriors sign

On June 3, 2013, during a NZ Warriors game, a “Lets gone Warriors” sign in the crowd captured the public imagination. Hayden and José make it their mission to track down the man behind the sign, and get it to Te Papa.

Keep going!