Museum Education on Display

Te Awamutu Museum has been taking a creative approach to heritage education and exhibitions over the last few months! One of our temporary spaces, the Front Porch, is designated to be a community space and we were starting to run short on ideas to display on it. It is a crucial space as we want the community to recognise the whole museum as their own, especially this space. It is also the first exhibition space you see when you enter the building.

Our educator, Tereora Crane, mooted the idea that schools be given the opportunity to create their own exhibitions for this space, using an education programme as the basis for the topic.

This idea has taken off and we have had two local primary schools create exhibitions for this space. The first, Kihikihi School, created an exhibition about their learnings on the topic of the 28th Maori Battalion. They created three text panels, plus a video. The two classes and their families were invited to an opening event at the Museum, which was attended by 85 of the local community, including the local Mayor and representatives from the RSA.

The second school is Paterangi School, whose topic is Legendary Explorers. They learnt about different explorers and navigators and how their families have come to be in the Waipa district. They also have three text panels, (two with interactivity!) and a slideshow. Their opening event was also well attended by the school community and the Mayor assisted the children to officially open their exhibition.

The Museum team are excited by the success of these two programmes and hope to continue to have schools taking the opportunity to present their own exhibition, with even more involvement from the students in content, design, objects and marketing.

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Paterangi School Exhibition

Paterangi School visited the Museum and spent time with Mr T learning about legendary explorers. They have now created an exhibition of the same name, tracing past, present and future explorers.

 Come and check out their awesome work!

The Front Porch, 3rd-31st August


Waipa Mayor Jim Mylchreest reading the exhibition at the opening function.

Te Awamutu Museum in National Spotlight – Again!

Te Awamutu’s Museum has punched above its weight again, named for the third year in a row as a finalist in the prestigious 2016 New Zealand Museum Awards.


Our small museum is up against much larger museums from Wellington, Hutt City and Auckland in an award celebrating innovative public programmes.

Staff entered their home-grown school holiday programme, Dig It, into the award. The programme teaches children about archaeology, takes them on a simulated dig and helps them learn about artefacts.

Dig It ran for the first time in 2015 and again last month, involving 60 children aged 5-12. Both times it was fully subscribed with a waiting list of children wanting to be involved.

Director of Museums and Heritage Anne Blyth said the Te Awamutu Museum was lucky to have Collections Manager Haylee Alderson, trained in archaeology, as part of the team.

“It’s brilliant because the only way most young people will ever get introduced to archaeology in New Zealand is if they go to university,” Anne said.

As far as she is aware, Dig It is the only programme of its type in New Zealand.

Thirty-three finalists in eight categories have been selected for the ServiceIQ-sponsored awards to be announced in Auckland later this month. The Te Awamutu Museum has been an award finalist before; in 2013 for an exhibition about eels and in 2014 for an exhibition of artworks by prisoners at Waikeria Prison. The exhibition, We Love Eels, is being offered again by the museum from May 14 – August 20.

2016 National Visitor Survey

We are participating in the Museums Aotearoa National Visitor Survey for 2016 this week!

If you have been meaning to pop in and see what’s new, this is the week to do it!

We want as many people as possible to give us their feedback, as the data collected by this survey is not only used by us, but by museums around the country.

It only takes 5 mins and is entirely anonymous.

Generation Gap

Our latest exhibition, Generation Gap is a collaborative art exhibition with the Webster Family.

Eddy, who works with wood and paint, has exhibited with us before, but never on this scale! This time, he is joined by his granddaughter Eliza, who works with acrylic on canvas and paper. There is also one special artwork by Ben Webster, Eddy’s late father, to show where it all began.

All of Eddy and Eliza’s works are for sale, so come and check out your latest local art acquisition, just in time for Christmas!

We are very excited to be opening this exhibition on Saturday 7 November, where invited guests will get first look at the outstanding array of works.

Generation Gap runs until 8th February 2016, in the Gavin Gifford Gallery

80th Anniversary Celebrations at Te Awamutu Museum

2015 is a special year at the Te Awamutu Museum, as it marks 80 years since the founding of the Te Awamutu Historical Society. Without their hard work and dedication to preserving Waipā’s history, we would not have such a wealth of information stored in the Museum archives or a collection to display.

The Historical Society was founded in February 1935 by a group of local residents. The inaugural committee meeting saw the following officers elected; Patron: Mr James Cowan, President: Mr. James Oliphant, Vice-president: Mr. H.A. Swarbrick, Secretary-Treasurer: Rev. E.G. Jansen, Committee: Miss C. Jefferson, Mr. G. Gifford, Mr. E. Thomson.  This committee agreed upon six aims for the Society to achieve, including gathering of all historical data relating to the Maori and European settlement of the area, preserving landmarks and historical areas through photography and creating maps of the area to show significant sites and tracks. They also actively collected objects and specimens with the goal of eventually forming a local museum. This was helped greatly by the first curator, Mr. Gavin Gifford, offering space in his rooms on Alexandra Street for objects to be displayed. Mr Gifford also had a considerable private collection from all over the world which was later given to the Society and formed the basis for the collection still held today.

The collection of curios includes many items from the local area such as toki, patu muka and other Maori taonga. There are also objects from further afield, including a Chinese opium pipe, a dice shaker and snuff box from England and items from various Polynesian islands.

Two months after the first meeting, in April 1935, the Society travelled to the banks of the Waipa River to recover a printing press which had been abandoned. The story of the printing press is quite remarkable, as it originated in Austria in the 1860s. This printing press has been a feature of the old Museum on Teasdale Street, and it is currently on display in our Pioneering Times gallery.

The Society was very active in the area, giving lectures and researching local history as well as leading field days to explore archaeological sites in the Waipa area. The Rover troop from Te Awamutu was also enlisted to assist with field work, and are credited in the minutes for collecting objects and mapping areas of interest in the district.

PH727They were also very proactive in preserving historic sites, both Maori and European. In the minutes of the meeting held in March 1935, it is noted that “the Secretary approach the Pirongia Domain Board asking that all steps possible be taken to preserve the Matakitaki Pa.”. In the same minutes they noted a visit to Paterangi by Mr. H. A Swarbrick and Mr Gifford where they inspected graves dating back to 1852 and that there were other sites in the area “worthy of attention by the Society.” At the same meeting they recorded the collection of seven stone adzes & chisels from Te Kawa as well as two adzes from Parawera and Korokanui respectively.

The Society  published their research, first as short bulletins, and then as the Journal of the Te Awamutu Historical Society. The journals were published between 1966 and 1975. This work is invaluable to anyone interested in the Waipa District or anyone researching local history. A project to republish these journals is currently underway. The Society also collaborated with the Otorohanga and Te Kuiti Historical Societies to create the Footprints of History publications which are available for sale at the Te Awamutu Museum.

The exhibition on the Front Porch gallery to celebrate the 80 years of work by the Te Awamutu Historical Society opens to the public on February 2nd.

Call in and see some of the first objects collected for the museum and how the work of the Te Awamutu Historical Society has shaped our museum today.