Research & Archive Services

Research & Archive Services

Museum is at your service

It’s time to get scanning at Te Awamutu Museum – Education & Research Centre.

With staff already undertaking the process of digitising – either scanning or photographing – much of the taonga the centre holds in the form of exhibition items, its doors are now open to the public wanting to preserve their own precious memories in the same way.

Access to two different scanners is being provided as part of a free service – an overhead scanner for items such as scrapbooks, photo albums and handwritten diaries, and the museum’s newest flatbed scanner which can digitise old photographs, slides and negatives.

Te Awamutu Museum – Education & Research Centre collections manager Sarah Dawe told The News the idea to offer the public the opportunity came about as centre staff looked to provide more ways for people to connect with the museum.

“As part of that, we’ve set up a research room which as well as the scanners includes published collections of books on the history of Waipā, our births, deaths and marriages microfiche – which is a great asset – and access to a huge resource call Ancestry Library Edition.”

Those who have items they would like to digitise can book a time in the research room to scan them and create high resolution digital copies.

Museum staff shifted to Rickit Rd in March aster the centre’s former building near Waipā District Councils’ Bank St building was closed overnight las October following a seismic assessment which showed it was vulnerable in an earthquake.

Exhibitions co-ordinator Henriata Nicholas said she like to think of the new location as a “learning activation space’.

“Every time anyone of any age visits us, our aim is that they don’t just have a look, but that some level of learning is activated, and they feel connected to what we’re doing here.”

To that end, each of the next six months at the centre will have a hand-picked theme.

Programmes for children and young people have also been running during the school holidays.

July is Matariki month, Henriata said, adding it’s hoped starting to invite the public to scan their items will also prompt people to think about history ahead of plans for Ancestry month at the centre in August.

“Every family will have documents of some kind which are part of their history,” Henriata said.

“And this is a great way in which to preserve them.”

Any one who books a time to use the scanners will be taken through a brief induction and training session regarding how to best use the equipment, based on what it is they would like to digitise.

Sarah said she’s looking forward to welcoming people who book in to use the scanners.

“I’m excited – people often love to share their own stories, and through the special items they bring in it’ll be nice to connect with the community like that,” she said.

For further information please contact Te Awamutu Museum – Education & Research Centre via

Article by Jeremy Smith – 13th July The News

Te Awamutu Museum – Education & Research Centre collections manager Sarah Dawe gets ready to scan – or digitise – a slice from the centre’s Mandeno collection. Photo / Jeremy Smith

An example of the Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner with an archival document ready for scanning. Photo / Sarah Dawe

An example of how slides can be scanned and placed within the special holder for the best results. Photo / Sarah Dawe

Examples of black and white photographs ready to be scanned to become a digital record. Photo / Sarah Dawe

Repatriation Project

Significant work has been underway at Te Awamutu Museum over the past four years to uncover the history of Major Walter Vernon Herford (b.1828, d.1864), after some of his human remains were placed in the care of the Museum in 2018. The Museum has held the remains in repository since, safekeeping them whilst they engaged in discussions with his descendants on how to appropriately repatriate them. On the 11 February 2022 staff of Te Awamutu Museum and members of Herford’s extended family attended a small ceremony interring the remains at Holy Trinity Memorial Park in Auckland.

Walter Vernon Herford was born in Altrincham, Manchester, England in May of 1828. Herford studied at Bonn University in Germany obtaining a law degree where he trained to become a barrister, upon completing his studies he moved to Adelaide to work in the South Australian Supreme Court. Later in life in 1863 Herford left Australia and moved to New Zealand with his family to enlist his services with the New Zealand government to serve in the military.

Herford served in the 3rd Waikato Militia during the New Zealand Land Wars as a Captain, later appointed a Major for his involvement and leadership at the Battle of Ōrākau (March 31- April 2 1864). On April 1 1864, Herford was injured by a bullet to his eyebrow. Unexpectedly, he recuperated but never wholly recovered, suffering from ongoing complications from the bullet lodged in his head. At some point after the incident at Ōrākau Dr. Henry, a surgeon, performed neurosurgery to extract the bullet to alleviate pressure and assist with recovery. However, a few months later Herford succumbed to injury, and on the 29 June 1864 passed away at his home in Ōtāhuhu in Auckland.

For reasons unbeknownst to the Museum, the surgeon of one of the medical team who extracted the fragmented bullet from Herford, as well as parts of his skull, placed them in a curios keepsake box. The box was labelled with Herford’s name, rank and cause of death as well as details of the surgery. For 154 years the box containing the remains of Walter travelled to various sites throughout the United Kingdom before returning New Zealand in 2018, when it arrived at the Museum from a private collector.

Te Awamutu Museum undertook extensive genealogical research to locate Herford’s descendants, who were found across the world in the United Kingdom, United States and New Zealand. Zoom calls and email correspondence with Walter’s extended family guided the Museum’s next steps and it was decided that the remains be interred at Herford’s final resting place at Holy Trinity Memorial Park in Auckland.  In letters written by Herford’s wife Annie  prior to his death in 1864, he expressed that it was his wish to be buried at this particular churchyard with other fallen soldiers from the New Zealand Land Wars.

The Museum’s repatriation efforts have been supported by a new sector policy focused on the repatriation and care of kōiwi tangata (ancestral human remains) and associated burial taonga (item of ancestral significance). In line with the national policy adopted by Museums Aotearoa last year, Te Awamutu Museum took an ethical approach to the management of kōiwi tangata in their care and sought to repatriate the remains of Walter Herford in a manner consistent with his family’s wishes.

The Ngākahu National Repatriation Partnership has supported and guided Te Awamutu Museum throughout the repatriation process, providing advice and funding for the final internment of Walter Herford. The Ngākahu Partnership between Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage and National Services Te Paerangi was established in 2019 to support organisations by providing expertise and funding assistance to enable the repatriation of human remains to their source communities.

Ngākahu Kaiārahi Jamie Metzger says she admires the museum’s unwavering dedication to the repatriation process,  has ensured the best possible outcome for Walter Vernon Herford and his family.

“This repatriation is an important expression of the ongoing commitment by New Zealand museum’s to proactively return ancestral human remains to their descendants,” she says.

The Museum would like to extend thanks especially to the descendants of Walter Vernon Herford for their support throughout the process, as well as Ngākahu for their ongoing guidance and support for the repatriation.

For further information please contact Te Awamutu Museum

Family members (from left) Suezanne Neall and daughter Katie look at the bullet and remains with Te Awamutu Museum collections manager Megan Denz. Photo / Dean Taylor

Iwi Relations adviser to Waipā District Council Shane Te Ruki leads the family and official party onto Holy Trinity Memorial Park Cemetery. Photo / Dean Taylor

Reading from Walter Vernon Herford’s closest living New Zealand relative Annabel Neall, accompanied by her husband Vince. Photo / Dean Taylor

Digitising History

Digitising History

Te Awamutu Museum’s digitisation project of the Te Awamutu Courier has added in publications between 1936 and 1950.

The programme started in December 2020 after the Museum successfully applied to the Collaborative Digitisation Programme for 2020-21 that is run by the National Library of New Zealand – Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa and NZ Microfilm Services.

Museum director Anne Blyth says the papers were sent away in December 2020 where the team at NZ Microfilm Services in Auckland captured every page of every edition from the 14 years. Each page is then added to the microfilm that is sent away to National Library in Wellington to be added page by page to Paperspast. It is a long process taking over a year to complete.”

The process is now finally completed and these years of the Te Awamutu Courier are more readily available on the website where they can be searched via word text.

Paperspast is a national database that delivers digitised, bull-text New Zealand and Pacific newspapers, magazines, journals and books, which are all accessible online at papers

“It is an incredibly handy tool for study and research on this nationally significant platform, the website allows people to have access to information at their fingertips from the comfort of their own home.”

“Paper archives can deteriorate over time and become illegible, having the Courier digitised, it helps with the long-term preservation of the original archives, meaning they can stay safely in storage while their material is accessed in more a user-friendly digital format.”

The Te Awamutu Courier publications from 1936 to 1950 join the 1911-1936 editions of the Waipā Post that are already available online on Paperspast. The Te Awamutu Courier editor Dean Taylor, who is also the Chairman of the Te Awamutu Museum trust, says it is fantastic to have four decades of the Te Awamutu’s longest running newspaper online.

“We take it for granted that we can go online and find anything we want, but the process of getting the valuable information from early newspapers onto Paperspast is time consuming and expensive,” Dean says.

“We are grateful to museum staff and the Collaborative Digitisation Programme for making it possible,” he says.

The Te Awamutu Museum is the oldest museum in the Waikato region with an extensive collection of 18,351 items that span centuries and includes taonga Māori and social history artefacts.

JAN 13th 2022

Image: Waipā museums and heritage director Anne Blyth and Te Awamutu Courier editor and Museum Trust Board chairman Dean Taylor check news from the 1940’s in an early edition of the local newspaper.

(excerpt from the Te Awamutu Courier publication from Thursday, January 13, 2022)

Update for Level 2

The Research Room will be unavailable during level 2. However, we are still taking research enquires and have extended the 15mins to 1 hour of FREE research time. 

To access this please go through normal channels of research enquires. Remember, there may be extended times for staff to be in contact with you. Thank you for your patience.

New Requisition for the Museum

Our most recent acquisition to the collection is a Whāriki from renowned weaver Kahutoi Te Kanwana, from her exhibition “Te Ohanga Ake” recently held at Te Awamutu Museum.

Typically Whāriki are housed flat or hung up, but due to our limited space it was decided the best plan was to roll, the woven kiekie was tested for its durability and suitability for this method of storage.

The first step was to create a core for the whariki to be rolled onto, and we did this by “upcycling” old Museum stools, and covering these in ethafoam to create a deep and sturdy base. The next step was to cover the core in Tyvek to create a barrier between the object and the foam core. Tyvek is used as it is a pH neutral material that offers waterproofing, mitigation from dust, breathable and suitable for most Museum objects.

After preparing the base, I used extra Tyvek to roll the Whāriki on to, meaning that every revolution of the Whāriki had a barrier layer, and minimised any friction that may occur between the fibres. The whāirki is maurua (double joined) and required extra padding along the way, ‘tissue sausages’ were added to prevent any lumps or bumps being transferred between the layers. The last touch was to add Tyvek bows to hold it all together.

Megan Denz, Collection Manager


Artefacts head into the digital age

Te Awamutu Museum’s digital collection is set to go live next week giving the Waipā community access to more than 18,000 precious museum items.

Museum staff have been working hard to digitise the museum’s extensive collection ranging from the beautiful to the plain bizarre. From Wednesday next week items such as taonga Māori and Social History artefacts from the collection will be available online, complete with supporting information.

Museum collections manager Haylee Alderson, said getting the collection live was a huge achievement and something that had been a long time in the making.

“We have worked really hard on this project and are excited to see it finally go live for the world to enjoy. We aren’t able to physically showcase the entirety of our amazing collection to the public at once so this is the next best thing.”

“We are still working our way through digitising the whole collection but when it’s finalised it will bring the museum into the digital era for everyone to appreciate. The new site is also much more user friendly which is great.”

Alderson said digitisation would also go a long way to helping research efforts by people wanting to find out more about their family history or information on historical events.

The project, which has taken 14 months to complete, involved each item being painstakingly photographed, captioned and uploaded to the museum’s website. Items will continue to be uploaded over the next few years.

Alderson said while the museum may have accomplished one major step, its digital collection would be continually updated and added to. The collection will be available online from Wednesday 28 August at

Haylee Alderson, Collections Manager

27 AUGUST 2019