National Army Museum, Waiouru, New Zealand : Military History & Army War Museum

New Collection Technician

New Collection Technician

By Tessa Smallwood

This New Year I began working as the new Collections Technician at the Museum. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a little about myself and about my new job.

As the Collections Tech, I get to work on all sorts of artefacts from across the Museum’s inspiring Collection. For those who don’t yet know, all the things in the museum are divided between six departments; Heraldry, Textiles, Archives, Social History and Accoutrements, Weaponry and Technology. Each of these is headed by an Assistant Curator who deals with the day to day care of their artefacts and customer enquiries. My role within this ‘Collection’s Team’ involves completing projects that the Museum’s Curators need a little extra help with. So far I am working on two projects; a research one for Heraldry and a practical one, caring for the Silk POW escape maps from the Textiles Collection.

I have always been fascinated by the stories of people past and how the things that they leave behind preserve their memory. I studied Dark Age history, archaeology and language for my Bachelors degree and I was so rapt that I went on to do a Masters in Archaeological Research. After I graduated I spent some time in England and Sicily working on archaeological digs that variably inspired or not depending on what we unearthed. Perhaps my best memory was that of when we discovered a series of Neolithic tombs complete with bone-fragments. I looked out at sunset that evening and contemplated whether the rugged Sicilian landscape had looked so very different from when those tombs were built some 12,000 years before.

I went on to work in a zoo-archaeological laboratory where I built upon a reference collection of archaeological fauna. This was very practical archaeological work that, although related to the human record, lacked personal stories that I have since found through Museum work. When I came to New Zealand, I felt utterly like I had found home that I applied for my Residents Visa. I have since lived in Taupo and Wellington but came to Waiouru almost two years ago. Since then I have been involved in the museum, honing my skills and knowledge of New Zealand military history. I am excited to have finally found such a perfect place for myself in the Museum and amongst the Curatorial team.