We champion Waipā’s History by sharing powerful and relevant stories with experiences that activate, transform and build connectedness within our community and nation.

Te Awamutu Museum – Research & Education Centre

Located in the centre of the rich and diverse history of the Waipā district, the Te Awamutu Museum – Education & Research Centre offers visitors amazing visual presentations and interpretation of key points of its social history, based on its successful education programmes.

Visitors are treated to activated learning experiences through interactive inquiry, historic taonga stories, recreational play, discovery trails and digital showcases.

What’s on offer:

  • Te Ara Wai Journeys – a free self-guided tour of culturally significant sites throughout the Waipā district.
  • Search Collections Online – search over 18,00o objects from the collection.
  • Make a Research enquiry to access the Museum Archives.
  • Sign you children up to Tui & Tama’s FREE Kids Club.
  • Utilise the FREE Self Digitisation Service.
  • Access our Ancestry.com Subscription.
  • Enquire about our Education Programmes.


To be relevant to our diverse community by;

  • Finding practical ways to involve our community in what we do
  • Exhibiting relevant objects and telling powerful stories
  • Ensuring our collection represents who we are, where we have been and what informs our future
  • Stimulating curiosity, engagement and learning through our programs, exhibitions and series

Core Values

  • We value and honour relationships with whānau, hapū, iwi and recognise tangata whenua as cultural partners
  • We are passionate about history, culture and the arts
  • We embody integrity, ethical practices and accountability
  • We are welcoming, accessible and collaborative
  • We are resourceful, creative and open to new ideas

First Museum in the Waikato

The Te Awamutu Historical Society was founded in February 1935 by a group of local Waipā district 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 Māori 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. The society also actively collected objects and specimens with the goal of eventually forming a local museum.

In 1935, Mr. Gavin Gifford gifted the society his collection and space in his rooms on Alexandra Street becoming the Gavin Gifford Memorial Museum. The aims of the Society were to establish and develop a museum in Te Awamutu that would collect and display objects of historical value to the district. Nearly two decades later and with the capacity of the current space overloaded with many object and archives, the society sought support for a purpose built museum.

In 1954, near the current Anzac Green in Te Awamutu, the first museum was open to visitors. It was the result of joint fundraising efforts by the Society, Te Awamutu Jaycees and Te Awamutu Borough Council.

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 Waipā District or anyone researching local history. The Society also collaborated with Ōtorohanga and Te Kuiti Historical Societies to create the ‘Footprints of History’ publications which are is currently being digitised.

Supported by Council and the Te Awamutu Lions, the Library and Museum building was built in 1975 and opened by the Rt. Hon. Bill Rowling. Located at 135 Roche Street across from the Council buildings, the Te Awamutu Museum came into existence. Over the next  ten years the Te Awamutu Museum hosted numerous exhibitions, talks and society events with its volunteers and society members.

As the Museum grew it became clear that a dedicated team was needed to manage the business, so on 9 May 1987 the Te Awamutu and District Museum Trust Board was formally Incorporated to manage the operation of the Museum. Ownership of the collection transferred from the Society to the newly established Trust Board.

Negotiations with Waipā District Council in 2005 resulted in the transfer of operational responsibility from the Museum Trust Board to Council.

If you would like to know more about the two publications – Journals of the Te Awamutu Historical Society, and Footprints in History, come on in and fill in a research request, phone our reception on 07 8720085 or email museum@waipadc.govt.nz.

Image from Te Awamutu Museum collection: PH 529 First purposed built Museum open 1954

Image from Te Awamutu Museum collection: PH 3870 Opening of the Te Awamutu Library and Museum building by Rt Hon. Bill Rowling – 1975.

The contemporary Museum

Since 1935, the Museum has grown in its capacity and professionalism from the appointment of its first curator – Gavin Gifford, to its various directors, registrars, staff and volunteers. Its visitor offerings have experienced many changes and upgrades from being a European centric social history to understanding the history of the Waipā district with a more balanced view. The use of technology to enhance learning and research opportunities.

It is one of 10 institutions in the country that is an archival repository and has finalists in the Museum Aotearoa awards for its public programmes, exhibitions and merchandising.

Since 2000, the Museum has welcomed over 90,000+ students to participate in its education programmes from as far away as Whangaparoa to Wellington. Its most popular programme being centred around the Land Wars of 1864. The Museum has created internally and collaborated externally on 300+ exhibitions, public programmes, events and special presentations.

What inspires the team to develop amazing offerings is the wealth of historic research, the collection and archives, and the community.

2014 saw the Museum undergo and complete redevelopment of its galleries, education space and exhibition offerings. The intent was to increase access to the collection for visitors through meaningful and collaborative displays.

In 2016, Museum staff undertook a brave project that would see them collaborate with local kaumatua Māori elders, historians, geologists, researchers, archaeologists, environmental specialists and an award winning digital storytelling design company – Locales. The project was to create an historical place based storytelling self-led website to encourage visitors to explore local history within sites of significance throughout the district of Waipā. Three years later of Te Ara Wai Journeys was launched.

It was the first bi-cultural dual-language website that shared stories pre-1835 to the Land Wars of 1864 and forward into the development of a contemporary farming district.

Today the Museum is managed by a small team of staff who are employed within the Customer and Community Services Group of Waipā District Council. Ownership of the collection remains in community hands under the auspices of the Te Awamutu Museum Trust Board.

As well as a vibrant exhibitions and public events calendar, the Museum runs an ELC (Enriching Learning Curriculum) programme for over 4000 children a year. We also provide research services to anyone wishing to access heritage information held in the collections.

The Museum building on Roche Street was closed in October 2022 following a seismic assessment which showed the building was vulnerable in an earthquake.

The Museum’s temporary space opened in March 2023 at 55 Rickit Road. You may notice there are not a lot of objects and taonga from our Collection on display in our temporary space. This is because the space does not meet the stringent Museum standards of climate control, pest control and security designed to keep objects safe.

This temporary space focuses on our Education, Research and Public Programme offerings, designed to cater to adults and children. Here you will find a range of information, interactives and activities designed to engage and inform our visitors about the history of Waipā. We also offer opportunities to increase engagement in arts and craft activities.

If you would like to know more about the two publications – Journals of the Te Awamutu Historical Society, and Footprints in History, come on in and fill in a research request, phone our reception on 07 8720085 or email museum@waipadc.govt.nz.

2020 Developed Landscapes Gallery 1869-1960

Social history galleries at Roche Street 2020

Rickit Road Back Porch Gallery 2023

Rickit Road Front Porch Gallery 2023

Kōrero mai

Get in touch

+64 (07) 872 0085


Te Awamutu Museum

Education & Research Centre

55 Rickit Road, Te Awamutu

Aotearoa New Zealand

Opening Hours:

Monday-Friday: 10am-4pm

Saturdays: 10am-2pm

Sunday: CLOSED

Public Holidays: 10am-2pm

Christmas & New Year: Closed midday Tuesday 24th December 2024 – Monday 6th January 2025

Easter: CLOSED Good Friday 29th March 2024

Haere mai

Visit us


Koha Donations are appreciated

Group visitors – please call reception one week prior to book your visit.

This will ensure staff have confirmed your booking and will make the necessary arrangements you require. 

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