Te Papa Childrens' Books Series

A children’s book series employing colour hardly sounds like a Best-worthy innovation! But, the Te Papa collection My New Zealand ABC, My New Zealand 123, and My New Zealand Colours employs colour in a way that is both sophisticated and vibrant, recognising that a children’s book has to appeal to, and engage both adults and children.


Designed as a means of introducing a new generation to the art and objects of the Te Papa collection, the curatorial team at Te Papa worked with Open Lab to select a collection of inclusions that allowed a careful balance of colour and composition. Our approach was to let the pages be filled with the collection pieces, using bold colours inspired by the works to compliment and showcase them.


As a design process, we employed a user-centred approach, which led to some interesting colour experiments, and at times even challenged our notion of what colours are. A class of kindergarteners told us in no uncertain terms that Michael Parekowhai’s red piano (He Kōrero Pūrākau mo te Awanui o Te Motu: story of a New Zealand river, 2011) was, in fact, orange. Conversely though, our junior user-testers had no problem embracing our new and unexpected kiwi colour invention – paua!


“Three bilingual gems from Te Papa Press”
– New Zealand Listener Top Children’s Books 

“…three bright and beautiful board books for kids … they are small works of art” – New Zealand Herald Review

“A colourful series of books to be shared by the young and old together, and a delightful way to showcase New Zealand art”
– New Zealand Book Council ‘Peer Review’