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Wed 25 May 2016, 9:00am–5:00pm
Thu 26 May 2016, 9:00am–5:00pm
Fri 27 May 2016, 9:00am–5:00pm
Sat 28 May 2016, 9:00am–5:00pm
Sun 29 May 2016, 9:00am–5:00pm

Where: Rotorua Museum, Oruawhata Drive, Government Gardens, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Adult Museum Admission: $20.00
  • Child Museum Admission: $8.00

Balls, Bullets & Boots is an engaging, multimedia exhibition exploring the legacy of the First World War viewed through the eyes of 15 New Zealand rugby players and one woman coach – those from every background, those who served and those who stayed behind, those who came back and those who did not return.

50 All Blacks went away to the war, 13 died. No fewer than 728 provincial representatives served, 163 died and by late 1915 (before conscription) it was estimated that 10,000 active club players from throughout New Zealand had volunteered for service.

Descendants of those players have contributed to the exhibition, helping to keep their stories (some previously untold) alive, and share an important aspect of New Zealand’s collective inheritance.

Featuring ex-All Black captain, Anton Oliver as your digital guide Balls, Bullets and Boots takes you through a rugby changing room and down into the trenches. You will learn about players’ personal stories against a backdrop of the nation at war, and see historical objects, memorabilia, multimedia dramatisations and interactive exhibits.

You will discover the impact the hostilities had on New Zealand’s signature sport and its sportspeople. Rugby players during the Great War were often held up by recruiters as heroes, athletes turned soldiers, making noble sacrifices for their country as they traded the cheers of spectators for the roar of artillery fire.

Balls, Bullets and Boots is based on research undertaken by Clive Akers for an e-book of the same name and expands on the themes and stories of the players. The exhibition is on display at Rotorua Museum from 17 March to 29 May 2016.

Entry to the exhibition is included in Rotorua Museum’s admission price, which is free for Rotorua residents with relevant ID. General Museum admission: Adults $20, seniors $18 and children $8. For further information please contact Rotorua Museum, phone 07 350 1814 or email

Image credit: Balls Bullets & Boots, Player Panorama. Photograph by Gerard Hudson of Music Haven Images

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