Ancient Artefacts: the fourth daughter of the Sun Family


The roads I drive to Taupo to see Suzhou the exhibition featuring treasures from the Tang and Song Dynasties are remarkably free of traffic.   If you’re thinking of going to see this collection of artefacts and art it’s worth the trip as is the drive down through the revitalizing provincial towns of Tokoroa and Putaruru.

Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of sister sisters Suzhou and Taupo

I combine my trip to the Taupo Museum (are you listening Tauranga) and Art Gallery with stops at the Waikato’s provincial isites – to promote ARTbop and the Affordable Art & Artisan Fair – where I’m greeted with friendliness and courtesy.

I discover the isite and adjacent toilet block in Tokoroa are to be demolished and new facilities built.   When I comment on the pleasant, curving architecture of the Tokoroa toilet I’m told “it’s not nice inside”. The young woman at the Putaruru isite has been just as chatty and friendly: she explains the notice on the wall “this is not a toilet” – the isite used to be the public toilets.    So I tell her I always stop at the new toilets and then drive round to the bakery which sells the most wonderful chicken and leek pies. I also tell her how for a long time I’ve looked at Putaruru or Arapuni as potential homes.

The Waikato and South Waikato towns I go through on this trip epitomise “we’re going places”

As usual I almost go down the bye-pass to Napier – some people never learn. This trip, because of my meandering isite visits, I don’t arrive in Taupo until the afternoon.

The wharenui-style entrance

When I show up at the Taupo Museum and Art Gallery I’m totally taken aback that as a “visitor” I have to pay to enter – its $5. And then the voice of reason in my head says “the stuffs over 1,000 years old” shut up and pay up” (and then I notice I get a discount because I’m old!).  

It was only $3 to see this amazing exhibition of treasures

I’m entranced. I’m the only person in the gallery and I must look innocuous despite my asking if I can take photos – “no”. There is a stillness in the room like an ancient church. I can feel the presence of history and the absolute beauty of the artefacts (there are two pieces that make me shudder but most probably those curating the exhibition didn’t put it together for my benefit).

Read and put back catalogue

My favourite pieces are “the gravestones of Mrs Liu” – simple engraved tablets. I love the phrase somewhere in the read and put back exhibition catalogue “the fourth daughter of the Sun family”. There is a plain stone box, a highly detailed embellished mother of pearl box, pottery molds, bowls and artefacts which looks as if they could have been made yesterday. I shudder in front of the weird “glazed pillow” and rapidly move away from the intricate beaded and bejeweled temple ornament.  I put three ticks beside “bronze seal and stone case”. There are 60’s style flowers, koru and a wood-bound chest. The black jade medallions look like the contemporary jewelry appearing in my facebook feed. Three ticks for the gold-embellished reproduction paper map. In design terms it’s a plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose – there is nothing new and how much we owe ancient cultures. I go round once.   I go round twice. I decide to take a look at the “museum exhibits”.

It’s tiny and focused on the history of the area and its early development. It’s utterly delightful and if you’re a visitor from out of the region or from overseas a wonderful insight. Almost to counterbalance the oriental antiquity of the current art gallery collection, the museum has on permanent display a local canoe relic and a tiny Wharenui.  

I’m still in the museum when I’m politely told the complex closed at 4.30pm and I have to leave. I mutter that I haven’t finished and the lovely young man gives me a “complimentary pass” for the following day.  

My next day “free pass” to continue my tour of this local treasure house

Taupo is ticking. Apart from the sheer beauty of the lake, the distant mountains and a natural ambiance that say’s “stay here” the town is just wonderful.  Everything seems to be in one place and in walking distance.

Place is crammed with visitors – yes I know it’s the school holidays

It’s always been a place of memorable trips and family holidays for me. I’ve spent hours watching people fish. I’ve had “real Italian food” in the home of a Taupo resident and eaten Neapolitan style pizza and superb restaurant-style home-cooked dinners.   I’ve even had dinner at the pre-renovated Huka Lodge and eaten just-caught trout in white bread and butter sandwiches – yes I’ve been coming here for a very long time.        

The essence of the region

Public art

The lovely lady in my motel, also within walking distance of the town centre, lends me a cellphone charger when I discover mine is still plugged into the wall of my Tauranga office (aka my bedroom). If you’ve ever thought someone is watching you – my phone yells, screams and protests that “this is not my approved device”. I feel like wrapping my phone in my hat but figure the bottom of the bag will do.

Contemporary Taupo is littered with restaurants, cafes and food outlets. Taupo Paknsave has a strong tourist focus and there’s delicious ready-made food and a selection of pre-made foods to create what I’d call a gourmet dinner – and that’s just what I do.

This is the queue out of a sushi shop in an arcade – when I ask “the best sushi shop in NZ”

As this is my “hooray I’m still alive” holiday I celebrate the great work of our public health system and buy Regal Marlborough King Salmon Double Manuka Wood Roasted Salmon – well they’ve said to eat fish!!! It’s more expensive than the adjacent packs of similar product “grown in Norway, packed in Germany” ice-cold and defrosting in the cardboard but I justify my purchase (a) it looks better and (b) I’m buying New Zealand.

This was so good you’d want to lick the packet!

Paknsave has an “own brand” small salad bowl with a pottle of dressing – I buy that and some New Zealand-made rice crackers (poppy seed) and a heavy on the garlic humus. A pouch of locally made Kumara soup (less than $5) and a French stick. A small container of mixed olives and a bottle of chardonnay complete my non-plastic bag purchase. (I take all the left-overs home in my “chilly bag”).

I have an indecently-long hot shower and a magic night’s sleep in a room with heated flooring!

Day 2 – In the interests of economy I’ve brought my breakfast bowl from home.   It’s Countdown’s own-brand Australian-grown rolled oats, cinnamon, coconut and dates (sometimes kiwifruit or apple) with the now ubiquitous macro soy milk.   But for lunch I go back to P&S and buy bananas, an Australian-made soy fruit yoghurt and slices of ham to make a roll with last-night’s left over bread, salad and humus. Delicious!

Today I get 150 minutes free parking (are you listening Tauranga) in the Tongariro Domain opposite the Taupo Police Station. I walk past a rose garden dedicated to community stalwart “Mrs Joan Williams” back into the boutique art space and local museum. This time I also meet the gardener who keeps the “Ora” wellness garden and quiet space looking so good.   The young man who seems to be in charge of this wonderful facility confirms that it is Council funded and it is the ever-changing exhibitions in the gallery-art space which brings in the locals.

You should not miss this if you’re coming to Taupo

I can’t find the fabulous recycle shop I usually visit – must have moved. I park on one of the side roads at the more northerly side of the town – it’s in front of a car yard with a beautiful coffee cart parked right up against the fence. I head off to check out DTT – Downtown Taupo.   It just gets better every time I come here even though I’ve put on my winter coat and scarf as I can feel the chill wind coming from the mountains.

There are boutique galleries. I’ve recently bought a print by Tauranga-based artist Lynette Fisher at Imprint Gallery in the Historic Village, Tauranga as a family birthday gift so I daren’t go in the Taupo galleries. I daren’t go into the Trade Aid shop – I always come home with some treasure and I’m trying to downsize (ha ha).   I peek into one or two of the home décor shops – they smell divine and are packed with “buy me” stuff.   I look and leave before I do something which will require wrapping up.  

Cool new retail outlet

I spend my longest time in State One Designs – I love its contemporary vibe and its beautiful New Zealand focused design and products.   I see things I want to send overseas to immediate and extended family. When I say to the young woman “in charge” I can’t believe I’ve missed coming in before she tells me they’ve only just opened.   State One is a must visit even to refresh your soul and source every overseas gift on your list.

A shopper’s paradise!

While I adore visiting Brisbane and believe they created the South Bank just for me, I’m always in awe of how beautiful, accessible and affordable the surrounds of New Zealand are for me.   Many of my friends have bucket lists – those do or die lists of activities and events which often include WTF stuff like leaping out of planes or jumping off bridges.   I’ve thought long and hard about my BL – I want to visit every art gallery in New Zealand. I think my early years walking through creeks, jumping off wharves and out of pine trees have pushed planes and bridges off my list. I’ve also always avoided offers of unplucked ducks, free helicopter and small plane rides and after yachting on Tauranga Harbour in the winter know I’m not destined to traverse the Pacific in a small boat.

On my way home I call in to the Tirau and Matamata isites and information facilities – same thing – absolute support, kindness and courtesy for ARTbop.   Both of these Waikato towns are visitor destinations and worth a daytrip from Tauranga (or anywhere for that matter).

You could do a lot worse than plan a day trip or overnight stay in Taupo one of the North Island of New Zealand’s central “jewels”. If you go before the 11th November 2018 you’ll be able to experience the amazing exhibition at the Taupo Museum and Art Gallery – Suzhou Faith and Life 618AD-1279AD and of course I recommend the Putaruru bakery’s chicken and leek pies!

SUZHOU An Ancient Story of Faith and Life – the exhibition features treasures from the Tan and Song Dynasties including artefacts dating back to 618AD.   Visitors will get a glimpse into a fascinating world of faith and life that is over 1000years old.   This is the exhibition’s first visit to New Zealand and the first of its kind in the Taupo District. To 11th November 2018 at the Taupo Museum

Rosemary Balu. Rosemary Balu is the founding and current Managing Editor of ARTbop. Rosemary has arts and law degrees from the University of Auckland. She has been a working lawyer and has participated in a wide variety of community activities where information gathering, submission writing, community advocacy and education have been involved. Interested in all forms of the arts since childhood Rosemary is focused on further developing and expanding multi-media ARTbop as     the magazine for all the creative arts in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.

ARTbop promotes

(or we think you should check this out!)


            ARTbop is promoting poetry in the Western Bay of Plenty




Join us every second Thursday of the month,

6.00pm to 8.30pm

Read your own poems or poems by your favourite poet.   Enjoy the power of the spoken word!

Phone:   07 571 8722   021 145 5810



Mad Dogs and an Englishman – Nick Eggleston Exhibition – 5 October – 24 October 2018


Mad Dogs and an Englishman - Nick Eggleston Exhibition - 5 October - 24 October 2018


When: 5 October – 24 October 2018

Where: The Incubator Creative Hub, Historic Village 17th Avenue, Tauranga, New Zealand

Nick Eggleston is fast becoming known as the tattooed dog artist. Exhibiting and selling his exceptionally detailed watercolours from Auckland to Invercargill, Nick is represented in many dealer galleries and has work in private collections throughout the world.

Originally from Yorkshire, England, Nick is currently based in Tauranga after relocating to New Zealand in 2006, and is a resident artist at The Incubator Studios.

Nick graduated from the Chesterfield College of Art and Design with a distinction in Ceramics and holds a membership to The Society of Designer Craftsmen. The skills he has brought with him to New Zealand have been eagerly received by students for his hugely popular beginners to expert drawing, watercolour and ceramic classes.

Alongside a typically busy schedule of commissions and teaching Nick has teamed up with two other Incubator studio residents to open the Imprint Gallery, also located in the Historic Village. You will find him most days sitting at his desk creating his latest pair of bespoke shoes, alongside the gallery’s eclectic mix of original prints, paintings, jewellery and clothing.

This is Nick’s first major solo show in his chosen home-town of Tauranga, and will be a culmination of a year’s worth of new painting and 3D work. (originally published by Creative Bay of Plenty, Tauranga).

 ARTbop recommendation:  Eggleston’s work is beautifully executed and painterly but his subjects are contemporary, darkly whimsical and thoughtful.   When you’ve been to see his solo exhibition at the Incubator make a point of going round to Imprint Gallery – if Nick’s not in attendance at the Incubator he’s often “in charge” of this co-operative venture.   Going to republish an image of Nick’s contribution to the recent Steampunk exhibition – again superbly crafted and darkly whimsical!

The care and detailing on this work is amazing



The next Affordable Art & Artisan Fair will be on the last Sunday of October (the 28th).   The Fairs are held within the Black Sheep Cafe & Restaurant complex on the last Sunday of every month 11am to 3pm.  There is heaps of parking, clean toilets and wonderful food and coffee.  There’s live music. There’s an event prize you can win.   If you would like to join us as an exhibitor/retailer of your original creativity or artisan products you can contact us at aaafair17@gmail.com1!

We are sign posted along SH2 with signage to the turnoff of SH2 and Plummer’s Point Road.  You won’t be able to miss us! We’re indoors over winter months and outside in the Summer


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