Culture & Events

Topp Twins come home to open Waikato Museum exhibition

The Gingham Sisters. Photo: Sally Tagg, courtesy of Diva Productions

The glittering career of arguably Huntly’s greatest exports, Dames Lynda and Jools Topp, is being told in their home region at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.

The Topp Twins: An Exhibition for New Zealand is now open at Waikato Museum following an opening ceremony featuring the local entertainment heroines.

Synonymous with small town, rural New Zealand and that Kiwi “can-do attitude”, Dames Lynda and Jools are among New Zealand’s best-loved entertainers. They’ve been cultural touchstones for more than 40 years, their playful, powerful and political creative work continuing to resonate with a broad audience.

Developed by Te Manawa Museum in Palmerston North, the exhibition celebrates the Topp Twins as national treasures, as well as vital contemporary artists and commentators on New Zealand’s social and cultural scenes.

Born and raised on a Huntly dairy farm, the twins’ strong connection to the Waikato brought them home to open the exhibition.

“We come from the Waikato and that has always been so important to us,” said Dame Lynda. “It’s very exciting for us to be here as Waikato girls at this incredible museum in the Waikato.”

At the opening, the twins shared hilarious tales from their childhood and performed their classic song, Untouchable Girls.

“There was something really beautiful about our upbringing, because we were part of something so Kiwi, so magical,” said Dame Jools.

“We consider ourselves part of this area and it will always be our home. Huntly is our hometown and the Waikato is our nest, so it was very important for us to be here to be part of this. We are Waikato girls and we are still untouchable.”

Creators of instantly recognisable characters such as Camp Mother and Camp Leader, the Gingham Sisters, Westie girls Raylene and Brenda, posh socialites Prue and Dilly and the Kiwi bloke and townie combo of Ken and Ken, the Topp Twins are also champions of the communities and causes near and dear to New Zealanders.

Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham says the exhibition fits perfectly with the museum’s strategy to tell the stories of Waikato history, culture, creativity, and, most importantly, its people.

“The twins’ story instils pride in our region,” says Ms Meecham. “From their illustrious entertainment career to the hard-fought political battles they’ve been a part of, and won, they’ve put New Zealand on the map internationally.”

The exhibition, on now until 10 February 2019, offers archival footage, images, objects and documents from the Topp Twins’ comprehensive archive to illustrate and embody a lifetime of creative work. It also features an opportunity to dress up as some of their most famous personas, and other hands-on activities.

The Topp Twins at Waikato Museum

The Topp Twins at Waikato Museum

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