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Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

WellingtonFebruary 15, 2024

The ultimate list of things to heist from Wellington museums

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

What do a moa, a giant orb, and a kakapo ejaculation helmet have in common? They’d all be great additions to a collection of stolen artefacts.

I have a deep, dark confession: I’m British. Perhaps this explains my innate and overwhelming desire to steal artefacts. I was struck with awe in December, when a group of protestors abseiled up Te Papa’s Treaty of Waitangi display and spray painted over the English text. It was not only a striking statement but it proved just how easy it is to do anything in a museum as long as you’re wearing enough confidence and hard hats. 

In the spirit of my heritage, I decided to go shopping around Wellington’s museums. Here are all the things I plan to heist.

The moa (Te Papa)

The moa, Te Papa.

On two separate occasions, in two separate flats, a crackhead tried to crawl through my mate Ceri’s window at night. A moa would protect her. Have you heard Te Papa’s simulation of a moa call? It’s a baleful, reverberating groan which could make even the toughest bloke do a scared little wee in his pants.

It’s worth noting the Te Papa moa is sadly not a real moa. Regardless, her imposing figure and booming call would make an excellent trespasser deterrent. 

Functional uses for the moa: Tetherball, shoehorn for clowns, clothing rack which gives you a fright in the middle of the night.

Big orb (Te Papa)

The big orb, Te Papa.

I really don’t want this orb. I get anxious when I watch little kids roll it around, imagining their tender fingers getting caught and flattened to pulp. On the other hand, this is the most impressive heist you could pull off. It weighs 10 billion kilograms and is in the middle of the atrium, surrounded by three visitor service hosts and two security guards at all times. It would be just like Ocean’s 11 (in that there is a heist, and the ball is wet, much like the ocean).

It’s essentially like stealing a street sign or traffic cone. I do not want a STOP sign or traffic cone in my house, but every time I see a sultry traffic cone reclining in a gutter at 3am, an impish instinct whispers in my brain, “do it”. 

Functional uses for the orb: Really dangerous soccer, Sisyphean torture. 

King Dick (Wellington Museum)

King Dick, Wellington Museum.

I adore the Colossal Squid, but could never take her. When I worked at Te Papa, I would approach little girls admiring the squid, and say, “did you know she’s a girl squid?” Their eyes would light up and they’d run to their mothers, saying “Mummy, guess what; she’s a girl, just like me!” It’s important for young women to have heroes. I’d also lie to naughty children and tell them that all the big scary men in Gallipoli come alive at night, if they were being particularly awful.

Unfortunately, the Colossal Squid isn’t looking so hot these days. I have a bad habit of buying things at op shops which are a bit broken, or ill-fitting, promising myself that I’ll fix them up one day. (Girl, stop – you never will.) She has a poorly-taxidermied cousin at Wellington Museum. His name is King Dick. He was the first animal who ever lived at Wellington Zoo. He died in 1921. He’s a lion with enormous balls. 

I could not fix her (the Colossal Squid), but I could fix him (King Dick). He’s deteriorated and looks like an avant-garde handbag, or an elderly dog who takes antidepressants. With some tender care and a hot glue gun, King Dick shall reign over Wellington once more. 

Functional uses for King Dick: Worship. 

Sheep Cam (Te Papa)

Sheep Cam, Te Papa.

Don’t you wish you could escape the humdrum mundanity of capitalist life? Plug yourself into the Matrix and become a sheep. The Sheep Cam is a series of videos filmed by sticking a camera on top of a sheep’s head. There are many immersive adventures you can undertake, such as “Little lamb lost” (you are a lamb who gets reunited with the flock) or “Bossy dog!” (a border collie is barking at you).

Imagine the mindfulness of chewing dandelions and cud with your flock, the gentle warmth of sunshine in your wool, the aroma of fresh-cut grass and clover. I once read an excellent book named GoatMan: How I Took a Holiday from Being Human. The author, Thomas Thwaites, built himself an ungulate exoskeleton (with a prosthetic grass-digesting stomach) and lived as a goat in the Alps. While I deeply respect his work, Sheep Cam is an avenue for the lazier of us, who don’t have the time or funds to build a sheep mecha. 

Functional uses for the Sheep Cam: Watch the Sheep Cam.

The big worm (Te Papa)

The big worm (with hand for scale), Te Papa.

This is genuinely the best thing at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand. Aotearoa is home to an absolutely whopper of a worm. Not only is it over a metre long, but it glows in the dark. According to the information plaque, its spit alone – used as a defense mechanism – glows bright enough to read a book by. Who discovered this? Who decided to read their book by the glow of a gigantic earthworm? What I do know is that Covid-19 taught us to be prepared for anything. When disaster strikes, you’ll wish you had a metre long glow-in-the-dark earthworm. 

Functional uses for the big worm: Take him to a rave, help to land airplanes, decadent snood. 

Earthquake House (Te Papa)

Earthquake house, Te Papa.

My parents will never get to visit my house. This is because I’m Gen Z, and won’t be able to afford property until they die. Isn’t that sad? Heisting the Te Papa Earthquake House is my only other option. I could find a rich husband, or sign myself up as a mail order bride, but I’m very inflexible and don’t reckon I’d fit in the box. The Earthquake House is a desirable one-bedroom property with excellent natural light and electricity included. The informative video leads me to believe that there are biscuits, a kitchen, and a fireplace for central heating. After a while, the constant quakes would be no less intrusive than living beside a railway line, or my awful stompy neighbours who blast Friends reruns through the wall at 3am. 

Functional uses for the Earthquake House: Tackle Wellington’s cost of living crisis, or sublet to my awful stompy neighbours who blast Friends reruns through the wall at 3am. 

The Whale Heart (Te Papa)

The whale heart, Te Papa.

The blue whale heart has many enticing purposes. It would make a nice chill out zone for overstimulated introverts at your party. It could be a good punishment chamber for naughty flatmates who don’t adhere to the chore wheel. It could be a sensual spot for a third date pash. I crawled inside the other day and found a poignant piece of graffiti: “Your gay”. Te Papa already stole my heart with the giant glowing worm – now it’s time for payback. 

Functional uses for the blue whale heart: As listed.

Tiny little men’s togs (Petone Settlers Museum)

Tiny little men’s togs, Petone Settlers Museum.

Togs, togs, togs, togs, undies? I’m not quite sure. You could get away with these bad boys anywhere: the beach, the bedroom, the… probably that’s it actually, although they’d make a great secret below-waist Zoom meeting surprise. They also have pockets, which is HUGE in modern tog technology. Finally, I can take my phone into the ocean with me, to answer emails and soothe myself with Cocomelon if I step on a crab. 

I went swimming with a girl once and thought it’d be cute and flirty to whip her bikini bottoms off. It was all giggly fun until I accidentally dropped them, and they sank to the depths of the sea. To make things worse, about 15 teenage boys decided to show up, so she was stuck grimly paddling around for a good half hour until they left. We never got her togs back. I owe her big time for almost making her an indecent public exposure offender and would probably gift these to her. 

Functional uses for the tiny little men’s togs: Swaggering, putting cool beach rocks in your pockets, please take me back Shannon, I’m sorry about your togs. 

Kākāpō sexmobile and ejaculation helmet (Te Papa)

Kākāpō are famously bad at having babies. To counteract this, scientists invented “Chloe”, a mechanical kākāpō taped to a remote controlled car. She did coquettish mainies past male kākāpō, enticing them to mate so scientists could collect the sperm, like nasty freaks. Unfortunately Chloe “wasn’t cute enough for the guys”, and there were no takers. 

One kākāpō male, the renowned Sirroco, habitually tried mating with people’s heads, so they tried making a horrifically named “ejaculation helmet” for scientists to wear while he jiggied down. It’s the most foul thing in the world and looks like a swimming cap made of wet condoms. It also did not work. This can be attributed to what scientists describe as “significant lack of rizz”. However, I am different and would be able to do it.

Functional uses for kākāpō sex kit: Using my natural charisma and charm to single-handedly save Aotearoa’s wildlife

A planet-shaped bouncy ball from the gift shop (Space Place)

Planet-shaped bouncy ball, Space Place.

Go on, take it. You know you want to.

Functional uses for bouncy ball: Fun, whimsy, the thrill of a heist, forbidden snack. 

Keep going!