“Our aim is to be relevant by telling powerful stories, stimulate curiosity, and work collaboratively with iwi to create engaging dialogue”

The Museum big on showcasing the district and beyond!

2014, the Museum redeveloped its internal galleries and education space, to incorporate new ideas in exhibition development. This allowed for opportunities to interpret appropriately, local stories and history. The outcome, three Waipā centric social history galleries sharing the stories about early Māori occupation, European settlers, Waikato Wars, industry and farming families.

The Museum also upgraded its community galleries to widen the scope for the local arts, environmental conversations, highlight current interests and showcase national touring exhibitions. 

2015, $1.5 million has been set aside by Waipa District Council to kick-start a new museum for Te Awamutu. The new Museum received acknowledgement in the 10year Plan.

2019, Waipa District Council awarded stage one of a $2.6 million architectural and design contract to build the Te Ara Wai museum and discovery centre in Te Awamutu.

Keep up to date with Te Ara Wai here


This encapsulates three long-term social history galleries that form an overview of life pre-European through to the industrial achievements of the 1960’s. Interpretive stories, historical accounts, objects and taonga Māori visualise treasured moments in the development of the Waipā from early Māori occupation to European settlers. Discover distinctive landscapes. Connect with the people who shaped this land. Experience the district’s uniqueness.

TANGATA WHENUA GALLERY – People of the land

Begin your journey through landscapes filled with rich stories of the Tainui people. In this gallery there are exquisite and significant taonga Māori connected to the wairua and people of the land – tangata whenua…


Move forward through a time of transformed landscapes, shared cultures and lifestyles. In this gallery are amazing objects from lands far away with the most incredible stories. The story of wars in the Waikato begins here…


Experience the struggles, challenges and success in developing our modern communities. Industry and land development begin along with the coming of the railway…


This gallery was named after one of the first members of the TAHS (Te Awamutu Historical Society) – Mr. Gavin Gifford. He gifted not only his collection to the new Museum, but also the use of his rooms as the first Museum space. The date, 6th February 1935, making the Te Awamutu Historical Society the first to create a Museum in the Waikato. From those humble beginnings, the Museum has transformed over the decades to what we have today. This gallery pays homage to the legacy gifted by Gavin Gifford.

The Gavin Gifford Gallery is a long-term gallery used for all types of displays, internally and externally developed and touring exhibitions. Some of our most memorable exhibitions can be found on our ‘Past Exhibitions’ web page and current exhibitions can be found by clicking the button below…

Gavin Gifford Gallery – Ake Ake Ake Exhibition 2015
Front Porch Gallery – Make a Wish Public Interactive


This is a short-term community gallery. The gallery highlights stories and visual displays created by the Museum or the local community. Small exhibitions around the Museum collection, specific anniversary celebrations, commemorations, community projects, arts, and more are captured here and are on show for a short time.

This space is always changing with new vibrant and meaningful displays, so it’s always good to check up on what’s happening on the Front Porch!


In 2017, the Museum updated the mezzanine space to include a few amazing things – make it more appealing and useful when presenting educational programming, create a warm and inviting space for workshops and kids school holiday programmes and make it a creative space we’d all love to hang out in!

Jeremy Shirley was commissioned to create the internal backdrop mural highlighting what life was life pre-European settlement. This was to showcase the flora and fauna of the district to visitors. We do a lot of public programming in this space and it was really important that positive messages about the environment be showcased. If you haven’t been up and had a look, or at least taken a selfie with our big Tuatara, then visit the mezzanine today!

This space needed to have pocket of curiosity and wonder built in – welcome to the Curioseum! This is a small range of cupboards, drawers and shelves that hold curiously interesting objects from old jars to incredibly delicate shells. There is something for everyone within the Curioseum!

The education element has two display areas where classes can be taken on a historic journey lesson. This doubles as our public programming space that has Tui & Tama Club days, school holiday workshops and much more. If you want to know what is coming up on the events and activity calendar, check out the Public Programme button below…

New Education and Public Programme Space
Art Attack Mural 2018-2019


In 2018, the Museum decided to invest in local arts by developing the Art Attack Mural Project – a special outdoor art exhibition space in the current internal courtyard of the Museum building. A chosen mural artist showcases their talent in a themed artwork highlighting the uniqueness of the Waipā’s flora, fauna and people. The artwork is on show to the public for a minimum of 12 months. The first artist/s to attack the courtyard were Oriwa Morgan-Ward and Marc Lenton. Their mural was created over a week with lots of FB onlookers and Museum visitors alike. This was a great way to introduce support for artists and to brighten up a piece of the Te Awamutu landscape. Our current artist is Hakahaka Taane – an artist with whakapapa links to Maniapoto/Waikato-Tainui. She has just finished the mural and promos will be put up on our facebook shortly.

For more information on this project and how you can get involved watch our for our promo’s on our FB page or on our website! You can leave an enquiry through museum@waipadc.govt.nz


In 2019, the Museum took a big leap and developed an interpretive story project called Te Ara Wai Journeys – a website that takes you on a personal and physical journey through the district of Waipā to hear from iwi, archeological experts, environmentalists, historians, and the local community. This is a great opportunity to hear, see and experience life as it was in the actual landscape where history happened!

More about this amazing project can be found on the website, but you can start your journey by visiting the designated Te Ara Wai Journeys gallery in the Museum. You’ll be introduced to amazing videos outlining the reasoning behind Te Ara Wai Journeys and some of the people that made it happen. Also, you hear from historical experts around why the history in the district of Waipā, is so important to our national story making it a significant link to our future as a nation.

In the gallery you’ll see some of the objects up close and personal that feature on the Te Ara Wai Journeys website. These add a compelling visual component to the story telling. Take the journey today…

There is a link below to the website.




This is a free, self-guided tour of culturally significant sites through the Waipā district.

Experience places of local and national importance, and discover unique stories told by local experts.


Taking art into the elements, – the Art Attack Mural offers local artists to market their talents for 12 months on the Museum courtyard walls. Themed to highlight the unique flora, fauna and people within the Waipā district. The public enjoy to see this creative project grow and change every year!

More to come soon – currently under construction

More to come…