Uncover treasured moments in history...

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.

Gavin Gifford Gallery

What's on show?

A long-term gallery used for all types of displays, internally and externally developed and touring exhibitions.


What's on the Front Porch?

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.


Start your journey here at the Museum

This gallery is the first stop on your free self-guided journey of culturally significant sites through the Waipā district. On show are taonga objects related to the amazing stories connected to this landscape. Map out your journey from here and don’t forget to ask about the new Te Ara Wai Journey merchandise especially created for your trip around the district.

Te Ara Wai Journeys – experience places of local and national importance, and discover unique stories told by local experts.

Past exhibitions shown in the Gavin Gifford Gallery

He Marangai ki te Whenua Exhibition

Kotahi Kapua i te Rangi, He Marangai ki te Whenua An exhibition by Karangawai Marsh of abstract kōwhaiwhai aho paintings informed by Māori language that reflects a concept describing language immersion and the intimate relationships shared between mātua (parent) and tama riki (children). Karangawai Marsh is a senior tutor of Te Toioho ki Āpiti (Māori Visual Arts), Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa, Massey University, a Māori language tutor and well known artist. Founder of Toi Inc and kaiwhakahaere of RaRau Mai (Māori language, whānau arts initiative), Tuku te Toi (annual marae arts project) as well as Ora te Toi (annual art exhibition project). For the past 20 years, Karangawai has been an active member of Te Ataarangi and 3rd generation kaiak of the Te Ataarangi method. She holds a Masters of Te Toioho ki Āpiti (Māori Visual Arts) and is currently preparing her confirmation report for PhD with Toi Inc being the research focus. The proposed exhibition will be the first of four exhibition supporting Karangawai’s PhD research. Exhibition Concept “Kotahi kapua i te rangi, he marangai ki te whenua – One cloud from the heavens brings rain to the lands” This is a whakataukī employed by Te Ataarangi describing and motivating their efforts as a community-based Māori language revitalisation initiative. Although the arduous efforts over the past 40 years have been carried out by a small few (kotahi kapua) the efforts have been beneficial to the survival of the language (he marangai ki te whenua). ‘He marangai ki te whenua’ will be the first of a series of four exhibitions over a four-year period committed to promoting language use... read more

Puāwai Exhibition

“Poipoia te kakano, kia puāwai” “Nurture the seed and it will blossom” Puāwai is an engaging creative studio workshop environment where audiences participate in various creative activities and art development practise with an artist’s creative space. Oriwa Morgan-Ward is a Māori artist who has been working with the Museum for a number of years as an arts practitioner sharing and presenting educational programs, and workshops to all Museum visitors of all ages. Puāwai is Oriwa’s way to showcasing her next stage of creative development as a Māori arts practitioner. “I help people tap into their creativity through the essence of my language te reo Māori and with mind, body, wellness practices. With my cultural and traditional values of aroha, manaki and kaitiakitanga, my mission is to awaken the creative genius in others and encourage all that is positive.” Whakaoho i te tama i roto. Whakaoho i te hine i roto. Awaken the masculine and feminine with. Puāwai is open from July – end of September... read more

Formal Friday 2.0 Exhibition

Due to popular demand, we have extended this exhibition until July 2021. This is a great opportunity for all that missed out on visiting this exhibition during Covid change of levels, to see textiles from the Museum collection up close and personal. As this is our response to the #FormalFridays Instagram hashtag that went viral with up to 40,000 tags alone, we thought it would be awesome if you would tag yourself with your #FormalFriday outfit on our Instagram @teawamutu_museum! We’ll have a new video up and posted when we have time….watch this... read more

Formal Friday Exhibition

Our latest exhibition is what I would like to call a rapid response show- one that was created on a very short timeline in response to what is happening in the world around us the moment. Formal Friday became a whimsical trend in New Zealand during our response to Covid-19 global pandemic. We’ve heard it all before; we went into lockdown for weeks on end, we were asked to work from home, we socially distanced, we shrunk our social bubbles and started living in our comfy gear. Whether this was all day in active wear, rotating the same pair of trackpants, or refusing to put on “real clothes.” In effort to break up the monotony New Zealand moved from casual Fridays at the office, to Formal Fridays at home. All championed by our very own TV personality Hilary Barry! Wearing Formal wear on Fridays uplifted our spirits, got us looking in our closets for our best glad rags and made Friday meetings on zoom something to look forward to. The movement of #FormalFridays went viral with up to 40,000 tags alone on Instagram and many others taking part across other social media channels. At Te Awamutu Museum we chose to harness this energy to ignite our own textile collection by creating a show that spans from the 1830s until today, and show what Formal Friday has meant to different people over time. Whether this is through the ceremonial outfits, what we once wore as daily attire, our uniforms or our best wears to church on a Sunday. For our attempt at developing and creating a rapid response show and... read more

Te Kōpuni Kura – Te Wananga o Aotearoa

Te Kōpuni Kura: Collected Treasures of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa Te Kōpuni Kura is the name of the Te Wānanga o Aotearoa art collection. The name reflects what the collection is – “kōpuni” a group or body of “kura” treasures. First initiated in the late 1980’s through the acquisition of tauira (students) and kaiako (tutors) artworks, Te Kōpuni Kura now consists of over 1000 artworks, displayed across multiple sites, representing the rich history and unique character of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. Drawing from Te Kōpuni Kura, the works selected for this exhibition represent ringa toi (artists) who have helped to shape, establish and deliver Toi Māori (Māori art) programmes at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa over the past 35 years. Collectively representing the calibre of knowledge, expertise and leadership that have been instrumental in the development of this unique pathway of Māori art education, and act as treasured reminders of this history. Tukua te toi, kia tupu te toi, kia whanake te toi ki te ao, hei hiringa whakaaro mō te katoa. Let the arts grow and develop in the world, to be an inspiration for all. On show from 20th September... read more


Te Ohanga Ake is a PHD exegesis exhibition describing visually, intergenerational knowledge exchange through Māori fibre arts. Te Kanawa, based in Te Kuiti, acknowledges her mother Diggeress Te Kanawa and her kia, Rangimarie Hetet as her primary sources of knowledge and  innovation. Te Kanawa remembers on of her mum’s says that epitomises her weaving process. “Mum always said this to our whānau…” “Tō tātou waka, ko te rangimārie, te hoe o runga, te puna o te aroha e!” “Our waka is the waka of peace, the paddle that propels us forward is the source of love from above!” Te Ohonga Ake is an exquisite collection of kete, kākahu, pot, whāriki, tīpare, tukutuku, piupiu and kono, created between 1970 and today. The extensive grouping of taonga on display accentuates Te Kanawa’s development of her own creative processes and innovations. The highlight within the collection of work is Te Kanawa’s personal challenge to re-create a pūkoro based on a taonga from the Otago Museum Collection. “This was something that caught my eye. I was drawn not only to its weave and use, but I wanted to disparage its description given by an early European who tossed it aside as a rag!” In addition to Te Kanawa’s own work, she has included some beautiful taonga created by her mother, grandmother and great grandmother, some of which they worked on together as a whānau. “Mum and Nana, always said to me as we were working together – let your mahi speak for you” This exhibition does just that. It shares the exchange that happens between whānau members when working in and sharing the... read more

Whatu Manawa – Matekino Lawless

Enlarge Whatu Manawa Celebrating the Weaving of Matekino Lawless This exhibition showcases signatures works, chosen from a comprehensive collection of kete dating from the 1980s to the present, along side kakahu and whariki. This is the first solo presentation of weaving by renowned weaver Matekino Lawless (Tainui), who celebrated her 90th birthday in February 2018. She has gained a number of awards including the QSM, Creative NZ: Te Waka Toi: Kingi Ihaka Art Award and most recently was made a Fellow of the Auckland War Memorial Museum. This is the first time this exhibition has been displayed in the Waikato, and will be showcased alongside Uenuku in our Tangata Whenua Gallery. The exhibition is only here for a limited time, don’t miss out! Developed and toured by: Tauranga Art Gallery: Principal Exhibition Partner: Holland Beckett Law:​ 10th May – 19th October... read more

To The Dogs!

Back by popular demand! Explore the special relationship we have with dogs in all aspects of life! It is amazing how man’s best friend has been part of our lives throughout history. Do you have a great working dog on your farm, a much loved furry family friend, foster pups looking for their furever homes or support the wonderful work assistance dogs do? Come along and share all your favourite dog stories and photos! Open from January 24th... read more

The Divine Remains

Something blooming wonderful is here! Don’t miss this beautiful blooming exhibition by David Lupton, who has been photographing pressed flowers for the past six years, constant experimenting and refining his craft. This comes with some amazing and interactive public programs from photography lessons with David to pressed flower making. A touring exhibition propagated by: HauNui Press and in association with Earle Creativity Trust. Follow this link for the associated workshops here Open from September 29th... read more

Pā Harakeke – Oriwa Morgan-Ward

The Open Artist Studio Project Te Awamutu Museum has developed a unique opportunity for artists to work with their collection. The Open Artist Studio project offers an artist the opportunity to set up a working studio in one of the Museum galleries and be on site to share their expertise, creative process and market work based on the Museum collection to visitors. The Open Artist Studio project has three main objectives – collaborate with the Museum to develop a theme in response to objects in the collection; exhibit existing, evolving and new work based on that theme; and present a range of interactive programmes. “We have an amazing collection full of distinctive taonga Māori and European curios imbued with the social development of the district. Our aim is to inspire creative work and programmes that engage visitors in the districts rich history and culture”, says Henriata Nicholas, Exhibitions Coordinator at the Te Awamutu Museum. The first Open Artist Studio was opened 21st June in celebration of Matariki 2018. Oriwa Morgan-Ward, a Ngāti Maniapoto artist is the first to take up the challenge. Oriwa has worked for the past three years with the Te Awamutu Museum and the Waipa District Council delivering creative waste minimisation and Māori art programmes for all ages. Her exhibition on show, Pā Harakeke is described as intergenerational learning utilizing traditional knowledge of raranga, whatu korowai, kete and tukutuku, to reflect whānau as ‘te ara wairua’ the spiritual pathway of connection to Papatūānuku. Pā Harakeke is a multi-layered theme developed in response to taonga Māori in the Museum collection, some of which are on show in... read more

It’s all about US!

A co-creative, community led exhibition! You’re invited to participate in understanding what you want to see in YOUR Museum. You are asked to ‘leave your mark’ with coloured dots, drawings, and messages at each of the colourful stations. Help us grow the exhibition by leaving your marks! The only exhibition that asks visitors to evolve the exhibition in a participatory way. On show from 31st March – 16th June... read more

Through His Eyes – Phil Brown

Captivating imagery on show for a limited time! Phil Brown photographic exhibition curated by the Te Awamutu Museum staff, showing at the Te Awamutu Library, Community Room: Selwyn Lane, Te Awamutu. every images has a story behind it – a day waiting in the rain for the right moment when the raindrop glistened like a crystal; or a game of hide and seek with a tomtit. A journey with Phil was filled with silence as he was always looking, always listening, always searching through the lens of his camera for a moment in time. Suddenly he would raise his hand to stop and while you had not seen or heard anything he had captured the essence of his subject. Exhibition open 12th – 25th January... read more

Toi Manawa: Celebrate the heart of the Landscape

For this exhibition, the landscape is defined as a visual interpretation of the artists’ creative process. New, emerging and well-known artists who have ancestral connections, work or live in the Waipa district are part of this group exhibition. Each artist is showcasing their particular area of practice. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for artist details and events throughout the exhibition! 14 July – 29 December... read more

Dambusters – salute to local hero!

Dambusters Exhibition created by Air Force Museum Te Awamutu museum staff believe an upcoming exhibition celebrating World War II’s famous ‘Dambusters’ will be one of its most popular ever. The museum will be hosting ‘Dambusters: Boffins, Bravery and Bouncing Bombs’ from the Air Force Museum of New Zealand from next week running through until July this year. The exhibition explores the extraordinary story of the Dambusters raids on the Ruhr Valley dams in 1943. It details the planning that went into the raids, the science behind the ‘bouncing bombs’ and the aftermath for the men involved as well as the Ruhr Valley community. It also covers the stories of the two New Zealanders who served with this elite unit, including former Waitomo mayor and dambuster pilot Les Munro.  Munro was the subject of the TVNZ documentary, ‘Reluctant Hero’. Museum and heritage director Anne Blyth said the dambusters story is well known with a book and a movie released following World War II. But there was sustained interest in the story and she was expecting the exhibition to be very popular. “It will primarily appeal to people interested in World War II, the Air Force and military aviation but this exhibition includes fascinating technology and interactive components as well and is very compelling. It will be captivating for all ages.” “Visitors will get to see the science behind the famous ‘bouncing bombs’, how they modified the plans and will be amazed by the stories of the incredibly brave pilots,” Blyth said. Enlarge In conjunction with Dambusters the museum is doing a special tribute to pilot Les Munro running from the... read more

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... read more