Celebrating the sea creatures of Aotearoa


9 March - 12 May 2024

Have you ever felt the skin surface of a sunfish? Life and Tides is a contemporary exhibition that focuses on marine life and local history, while igniting new elements of curiosity. This exhibition not only celebrates Seaweek, but recalls the past of Whangārei’s iconic Museum of Fishes, a natural history hub which intrigued and educated locals and visitors across the 1990s. Revisiting some of the memorable concepts and original artefacts from the bygone Museum of Fishes allows us to re-examine them through a 21st century lens, to contemplate the natural micro-world of each sea creature: viewing the carefully preserved forms of these creatures enables us to wonder about the life that they lived, the role that they played within the complexity of the ocean, and to ask whether their surviving populations still swim within our own coastal tides. Each creature’s size, shape, colour, and texture has evolved around its form, function, and specific role within a delicately balanced ecosystem, where humankind plays the most powerful role.


Life and Tides represents a legacy-project that Northland has long been a part of, celebrating our love for the sea and all that is within it. The exhibition also reframes a practice from both the ancient and recent past (taxidermy), and places it into a contemporary landscape. We no longer view these taxidermy fish as trophies, but as advocates for their species - complex and interconnected creatures with their own uniqueness, existing within a delicate balance.


“No one will protect what they don’t care about, and no one will care about what they have never experienced”

- Sir David Attenborough


Kiwi North is holding a special competition for children who love to write or draw these school holidays: Monday 15 April to Friday 26 April. We encourage school-age children and teens to visit the museum’s Life And Tides exhibition, and use it as an inspiration for their short story, or their visual-story - and there’s a lot to be inspired about, from life-like recreations of little blue penguins, mako sharks, conger eels, enormous swordfish and so much more!!   

Entry forms for our "Life and Tides" inspired school holiday Storytelling Competition can be found at