Launch Pad 2: Earthquake House

The mundune-looking Earthquake House has been with us since Te Papa opened in 1998.  It simulates an aftershock of the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake; the original quake being a magnitude 6.6.  No doubt most parents (uncles, aunts and grandparents, babysitters …) have been dragged to the Earthquake House by shorter people.  It’s now proposed that it be replaced with new exhibitions “integrated with new digital museum experiences.”  Sounds exciting, but this end of an era is perhaps a good time to reflect on the joy and terror that the Earthquake House has brought to millions of children over the last 17 years.

JOIN US on Friday 22 May 4.40pm for our online discussion on Te Papa’s Earthquake House as part of our virtual launch of our givealittle site to fundraise for our involvement in the Basin Bridge High Court Appeal opposing NZTA.

Featuring: Alannah (age 5), Ben (age 8), Lewis (age 5) , and Rose (age 5 and a half)

For those of you for whom it’s been a while since you were in the earthquake house, here’s a 2min video of the experience inside …

And off we go with the Earthquake House.

First up, Ben (age 8) has a picture to share.


Ben says, “I like how there’s a TV that shows you something that happened, the earthquakes, and how part of it is fenced-off with things falling over. I also like how it looks like a house. It feels kind of like a real one. I think it would be cool to have bigger earthquakes in the house but not in real life.”

And another picture by Lisa (19 months).


And a video by Rose and Alannah (age 5 and 1/2, and 5).

And a picture by Anna.


And lastly, a picture by Lewis (age 5).










3 responses to “Launch Pad 2: Earthquake House”

  1. Sam D Avatar
    Sam D

    The move towards more digital experiences at Te Papa is a concern if the physical environment is downplayed. Digital is by it’s very nature available anywhere to anyone (who can afford a device and an internet connection) but the physical experience is what is unique to a museum environment and should remain the priority. The earthquake house was a great exhibit, hopefully the replacement can be as popular and long lived.

  2. Adam Martin Avatar
    Adam Martin

    I don’t think i’ve ever been to it. Clearly i must! Can’t possibly comment till i have .

  3. I’ve enjoyed the thrill of simulated earthquakes over the many years since Te Papa had opened. Now my kids enjoy it every time we go there but… it has lost a lot of its potency. It’s beginning to feel like one of those unloved kids rides at 2nd rate suburban shopping malls. You know the ones, a badly sculpted and clearly unlicensed visage of a popular cartoon character with most of it’s skull hollowed out to accommodate two young riders. A bored mother standing next to it as it bobs up and down to crackling, distorted and barely audible tune. The riders themselves even at that early age visibly disappointed by the lackluster experience and under-delivery of the promise that lured them into the hollowed out skull (or belly) in the first place. A few dry leaves from previous year’s autumn still linger around behind the mechanical monstrosity in a dark and dirty corner. You get the picture.

    I think the “ride” is due for an upgrade. Earthquakes are not just an important part of our lives in NZ. They are an unwelcome and scary reality. I think that they deserve to be treated more seriously and with more respect. Perhaps a replacement should be an experience of how to behave or what to do after. Either way, it needs to change.


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