Precious. What's precious to you? Activity: Allow 1 hour

Precious workbook

Explore the activities in this workbook to find out what is precious to you and your family. The activities will take about 1 hour. Either grab a piece of paper and work through the activities from the webpage or print the booklet. Let's get started.

The Precious workbook is designed for use at home or in the classroom.

Print your copy of the Precious workbook, (pdf, 780KB)

If you are at the National Library you can pick up a copy of the Precious workbook, ask one of the Kaiarahi at the front desk.

Nau mai, haere mai, tamakirk mā | Welcome kids!

The National Library of New Zealand collects books and other precious objects that relate to Aotearoa. These are the taonga of our nation.

We’re keen to learn about the taonga or precious objects in your world!

By exploring the fun activities in this workbook you can discover why we consider some things precious, as well as uncover and share your own precious objects and their stories.

To find your precious objects you’ll take some of the same steps a museum curator or librarian would when preparing an exhibition.

It's interesting to think about who chooses what is in an exhibition and why.

We know there will be so many precious things in your life, but there’s only space for some of them in this workbook. The big challenge is to choose only one thing. What is it and why is it precious?

Have fun on this fantastic journey of discovery!

Let's begin!

Drawings of busy bee, paua, feathers, teddy bear, paper plane, ball.

Ko wai ahau? | Who am I?

Before you start looking for your precious object, take a moment to think about what’s precious to you generally.

Let’s start with your pepeha, a way of thinking about yourself and your place in the world.

A pepeha tells the story of the people and places you are connected to. Ask your parents where your ancestors came from, what places they feel a close connection with.

A pepeha usually includes a special mountain, river or other natural place that a person feels connected to.

  • Question — He Pātai? — What natural place do you feel most connected to and why?
  • Hint — it could be a beach, a hill, a mountain, a forest, a river or lake.

Grab a piece of paper and draw your special natural place.

Say why it’s important to you.

Drawing of a mountain.

Tōku pepeha | My pepeha

Complete the following:

Ko______________________ te maunga (is the name of my mountain)

Ko______________________ te awa (is the name of my river)

Ko ______________________ toku whānau (is the name of my family)
Where does your family name come from? Who could you ask to find out more about your name?

Ko ______________________ te iwi (are my people)
What other groups do you belong to?

Ko ______________________ toku ingoa (is my name)
Where does your name come from? Does it have a special meaning?

Ko koe he māpihi maurea | You are a treasure!

Grab a piece of paper and answer these questions with words or a drawing.

• What are you really good at?

• What do you really care about?

Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa | The National Library of New Zealand

The National Library has heaps of information about New Zealand places, names, events and objects. Let’s do a search to see what you can find about your family, your iwi or where you live.

Go to this website —

  • ... and use the search bar (hint: it’s in the top right corner with a magnifying glass) and see what comes up.
  • ... your birthplace How many hits came up? Are there any images?
  • ... your family name. Did something surprising come up?
  • ... the year you were born. What came up?
  • Write down some other words that you want to search. Hint: This could be a location, name, iwi or historic event or anything else that you want to find out more about ...
  • Note down what you found out. Did you find anything interesting?

He aha tō tino taonga | What makes something precious?

We are all different and what may be precious to one person may not be precious to someone else.

Sometimes it is about how much something cost, maybe it is made of precious materials like gold. Precious could also be about how rare it is because there are only a few of them in the world.

It could be precious because of who made it or who it used to belong to. It may be precious because of the memories associated with it.


Mahere taonga | Treasure map activity

Here are some quick questions to start thinking about what’s precious to you.

Write the answers on a piece of paper.


  1. What would you rescue if your house was on fire?
  2. What object do you enjoy using most or play with every day?
  3. What object would you never sell?
  4. What matters to you the most right now?
  5. What object best expresses your personality, identity or culture?
  6. What would you take with you on a deserted island?
  7. What do you value the most?
  8. What was the best present you ever got?
  9. What object expresses your aspirations or dreams for the future?
  10. What object best expresses your personality, identity or culture?
  11. What is the most expensive object you own?
  12. Which object connects you to your family, friends, or culture?
Map with treasure map questions on it.

Awe wairua | Thinking about what’s precious

Do you have something which is precious to you but is not an object? For some people it is an idea or value that is precious. Things like time, being healthy, happiness, community, the environment or whānau - we might use an object as a way of reminding us of how precious these ideas are to us.

For example, you might have a shiny paua-shell you have collected at the beach as a reminder of how precious the environment and the health of the ocean is to you.

On a piece of paper write your answers to these questions.

  • Think about something that is precious to you but isn’t an object and write it down.
  • What object could you use that would symbolise that idea or value?
  • Crazy question: Draw a precious object you would love to own. It can symbolise a value or idea or just be a fantastically cool object — let your imagination go wild!

He kimi taonga ā whānau | Family treasure hunt

Here is a fun activity for everyone in your whānau to do together. You may be surprised what you learn about each other and the objects you treasure when you share your stories!

If nobody else in your house is available, you can do this by yourself. Remember to talk to an adult first before touching any objects that are fragile or extremely precious.

Hint — These objects may stand on the mantlepiece, lie at the back of the drawer or hide in the attic.

So, what are the precious objects of your family?

Let’s find out.

Tō aronga | Your mission

Step 1. You have 10 minutes.
Step 2. Find at least 2 but no more than 5 precious objects in your house.
Step 3. Interview a family member about their precious object.
Step 4. Capture the notes on a piece of paper or notebook.


Uiuinga | Interview questions

Interview a family member about one of these precious objects and write down their answers. Here are some questions you could ask them:

  • What is this object?
  • Who made it?
  • What is it made of?
  • Where did it come from?
  • How old is it?
  • Why is it precious?
  • How did you get it? Was it a gift or did you buy it?

Bonus question:

  • What’s unique about it or surprising?
  • Why would they never sell it?

To ake taonga | Your precious object!

Now it’s your turn.

Think about all the activities you’ve done so far. Now imagine you’re putting together an exhibition. Choose one object which is the most precious to you right now for your exhibition.

Take a photo or draw a picture of your precious object.

Drawing of an All Black rugby shirt.

Pinetohu | Object label

Now imagine you’re putting together a display case for your exhibition.

Tell us about the condition of your object ... (for example does it have any scratches or dents?) and measure it (what are its dimensions?).

What additional information can you find out about your objects? Perhaps the National Library website is a good starting place.

Use the headings below to write your object title:

  • Object Title
  • Year ... (when was it made?)
  • What materials is it made out of?
  • It’s precious because ...
  • Surprisingly ... (what you may not know about the object at first glance as to why it’s precious)
  • Object label written by
  • Age
  • Location (district or town).

Kaitiakitanga | Stewardship

Curators and collection managers keep precious items safe for future generations. This is often called preservation or conservation, it’s about looking after precious things.

Think about ways you can keep your precious objects safe and prevent them from any damage. How can you store them, handle them? (If you are super keen go to our website and search ‘caring for your collections’ for heaps of information to help you). One way of keeping a copy of your precious object is to take a photograph.

Pro Tips!

Some tips on how to take a photo of your precious object like a professional.

  • Choose a plain background (try placing your object on a white sheet or coloured fabric that makes it stand out or put it against the wall).
  • Use indirect natural lighting (like a window or take your object outside on a cloudy day, you can also use a lamp).
  • Hold your camera very still (or put it on a tripod or lean your elbow on something to steady it). Experiment with your camera settings or edit it afterwards until you are happy with the result.

Ka Pai. Tha's a wrap! Well done!

Ngā mihi ki a koe!
Thank you for participating!

Ka kite ki Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa! | See you at the National Library (or online)

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