The Mo-Bros of Wellington Museum


By Tom Etuata, Museums Wellington Digital Communicator

Ah, Movember. 

The time when you see the odd gentleman sporting an unfashionable bit of hair growing between their nose and lip that’s called a ‘moustache’.

Grown not only to provoke weird looks from the general public, but also to raise money to tackle prostate and testicular cancer, men’s mental health and suicide prevention.    

Although Movember has lost a bit of its mojo in New Zealand since it began in 2006, it has not gone away completely. The bearded male is still a common everyday sight in Wellington, and Movember is still a popular movement globally. Their tagline – ‘Grow a Mo to Save a Bro’ has inspired many men around the world to grow a moustache for a just cause.

It has also inspired many museums around the world to share their own collection of photographs that show times past – when a well-kept moustache and beard were the normal facial hair-piece of a man’s attire.   

Pinterest page from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London on Movember:


Twitter posts for Movember from The Fusiller Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum.


So for this blog, I will try and track down some moustaches and ‘mo-bros’ that reside here at Wellington Museum.

Starting with the Attic.

In the Attic of Wellington Museum you will see a number of wooden sculptured heads of old prominent Wellington business men on the wall. These came from the Royal Albert Hotel, known as the ‘Old Identities’ Hotel.

The wooden scultured heads. The Attic, Wellington Museum

One of these is the bust of William Hort Levin (1845 – 1893), who was the first Chairman of the Wellington Harbour Board.  Also known as ‘Willie’ Levin, he helped establish the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, becoming a wealthy businessman and  philanthropist.

The town of Levin is even named after him.

William Hort Levin in the Attic at Wellington Museum

Even though his sideburns were more impressive than his moustache – Levin’s full but sophisticated mo was a nice alternative to the bushy colonial beards that were the preferred style for men in New Zealand during the early 1900’s.

William Hort Levin. This photo is also displayed in the Von Kohorn Room at Wellington Museum.

Also in the Attic you can find the rather lucky Isaac Giles Sykes who escaped death twice – after being severely wounded at both Gallipoli and the Somme during the Great War.
Maybe his moustache was a lucky charm?

Isaac Sykes display in the Attic at Wellington Museum.

And if you peep through the What We Do in the Shadows display, there’s a spooky moustache of the Wellington vampire kind – via a painting of ‘Vladislad’ a.k.a Jermaine Clement. Vladislad’s slickly groomed moustache is accentuated by the tuft (soul patch) on his bottom lip.   

Wellington Vampire ‘Vladislav’ in the Attic at Wellington Museum.

The von Kohorn Boardroom has a wall full of Mo-Bros.
The male portraits that adorn the boardroom have many decent moustaches and beards.















My particular favourite is this one of Robert Fletcher.

Robert Fletcher in the von Kohorn Boardroom at Wellington Museum

With a trim look and full shape, Robert Fletcher’s moustache definitely has a Magnum P.I. quality about it.
Robert Fletcher was a member of the Wellington Harbour Board – and was  Chairman from 1910 to 1915. After a brief stint in Wellington City Council, where he contested the mayoralty (coming second), he became a member of Parliament for the Liberal Party having won  the Wellington Central Electorate.  He died at a rather young age of 55 due to illness.

Reading his obituary he was a chairman who was; ”…clear… practical, firm, and fair…”

Much like his moustache.

Not to be outdone by our predecessors, we’ve carried on this hairy tradition in the office.

Our Director Brett Mason sports an impressive moustache, with appropriately 1970’s style hair to match.  Cue classic rock from the Allman Brothers.

Museums Wellington Director Brett Mason

Deputy Director Anton Carter also wears his one with pride (even though it’s really a bearded goatee).  

Museums Wellington Deputy Director Anton Carter

Events Programmer Benjamin James rocks his ‘Ginger Baker’ style mo. He is a musician/sound technician after all.  Cue loud drum solo.

Museums Wellington Events Programmer Benjamin James

I managed to get in on the act as well, with a wanna-be ‘Bernie Fraser’ mo. 

Museums Wellington Digital Communicator Tom Etuata

And let’s not forget our former deputy director Paul Thompson, who had the most stylish mo at the Museum. I’m sure he grew a handle-bar moustache at one point.


(Ex) Museums Wellington Deputy Director Paul Thompson

So, here’s to the Mo-Bros of Wellington Museum from yesteryear and today. Cheers.


For more info on MOVEMBER visit