Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt

Art & Heritage

Northland culture and heritage trails

  • 2 minutes


8 highlights where to go, what to see

Forget the history books and see how contemporary Northland is defining Aotearoa New Zealand. Northland is the crucible modern Aotearoa New Zealand was forged in. The place where treaties were signed, flagpoles were chopped down (several times), whalers and land speculators congregated and missionaries converted souls. Nineteenth century characters are colourful. Northland is full of personality plus individuals who are fascinating to find out more about. Yet let’s abandon the history lessons and look at how culture and heritage interpretations are flourishing in Northland today. Find and explore a Maori Renaissance in art, culture and expressions of heritage.


This article ties in with Northland Art Galleries, Workshops and Exhibitions worth a visit

Hundertwasser Art Centre @Hundertwasser
Hundertwasser Art Centre @Hundertwasser

An immigrant from Austria, Hundertwasser opposed the straight line and any standardization in design, for instance his famous toilet in Kawakawa represents this ideal. His most well known work is the Hundertwasserhaus, now a notable architectural and heritage site in Vienna, Austria’s capital. Among the rooms and buildings is a place devoted to his love of his adopted country New Zealand. The koru flag greets visitors and the vitality and uniqueness of Hundertwasser is very evident. He was an avid supporter of environmental protection.

Hundertwasser also worked in the field of applied art, creating flags, stamps, coins, and posters. His most famous flag is his koru flag (designed in 1983).

The flag of New Zealand, as an immigrant and artist reinterpreted the country’s symbol. While not adopted as the national flag, the legacy of debate about identity and culture continues.

On the cultural trail in Northland Hundertwasser’s Centre on the waterfront and Kawakawa’s public toilets are must go locations.

For related articles on Whangarei check out Whangarei 8 heritage sites worth a visit

Hundertwasser koru flag (designed in 1983)
Hundertwasser koru flag (designed in 1983)
Kings Theatre Creative @KingsTheatreCreative
  1. KAWAKAWA – Kings Theatre Creative

INDIGENOUS ARTISTS invoke discussion with vivid and challenging artistic statements of the world through their eyes. Kings Theatre Centre is a must visit contemporary cultural experience in Kawakawa. The Theatre is a creative-community space. Kawakawa. Perhaps one of the best exhibition spaces for emerging and established Maori and indigenous artists to showcase their interpretation of New Zealand and beyond.

For related information check out Kawakawa trip guide, public toilets & other things to see: Best Bits


Quinessential Victorian charming home, heritage in wooden splendor on Whangarei’s marine esplanade has a reimagined interior. Welcome to the home of the Northland Society of Arts. The society owns and operates out of Reyburn House, a category two historic listing and the oldest pioneer settlers house in Whangarei. Nearby is Riverside Art Studio, where various art classes are held. This Charity based society aims to promote visual art in Northland through exhibitions and training. Culture and heritage is continually reinterpretated in a glorious homage to the past. Past meets today melded today in ways the original owners could not have imagined.

Reyburn House @ReyburnHouseArtGallery
Kerikeri art @wharepukesculpturepark

Art at Wharepuke IS MUST VISIT DESTINATION for culture buffs. The garden interprets the native flora and fauna in amusing ways with sculptures challenging the sense of what culture and heritage means to the visitor.  There is an adjoining gallery exhibiting both New Zealand and international printmakers ever since. There is an artist residency and studio apartments available to the public.  The package is topped off with an onsite restaurant. Owners Mark Graver and Tania Booth have built an outstanding contribution to the New Zealand art trail.


On the doorstep of Kerikeri’s KORORIPO HERITAGE PARK

For related material check out Kerikeri Things To Do and See – Kerikeri Travel Guide on Pacific Jane.

  1. MANGONUI – Contemporary collective space where artists interpret Northland

Exhibit A Gallery Mangonui is a collective of Northland artists who contribute to the maintenance of the historic Mangonui Courthouse which is the home for the gallery. The gallery holds a unique collection of original paintings on canvas and paper, prints, sculptures and unique handmade jewellery, furniture and fine crafts in wood, metal, glass, leather and mixed media. Observe how artists have used local materials, upcycled materials to showcase the world around them.

Open daily 10am-4.30pm (July-August) winter, check opening hours before arrival.

For related materials check out Mangonui, Northland things to see and do, Butler Point Whaling Museum.

Exhibit A Gallery Mangonui @exhibitamangonuigallery
Exhibit A Gallery Mangonui @exhibitamangonuigallery
The Kauri Museum, Matakohe, Northland, New Zealand
The Kauri Museum, Matakohe

Kauri forest trees were an economic driver for Northland in the mid 19th – 20th centuries. The forests of the North were desimated and largely destroyed in this time period. The story of cultural & environmental gencoide of the forest giant, the Kauri is aptly told at the Matakoke Kauri Museum. Far more than a museum of timber, the Museum has stories of the Maori of the north eastern Kaipara, of European pioneers, of foresters and sawmillers, gum diggers and farmers, and of business people, fishers and the families who have made this area their home

For related articles check out Dargaville: things to do in a trip guide.


Her fingers have contributed to the revival of traditional art. Pareaute Polly Nathan was awarded Queens Service Medal for outstanding contributions to Maori education and weaving. (2016). Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga are not the only reasons to visit the Far North. Ahipara is home to Pareaute Polly Nathan & Te Whare Whiri Toi Galley. The gallery has an extensive collection of local Maori artisan items from carvings, flax woven baskets, purses, bags and wall hanging. The exhibitions are a glorious celebration of Maori cultural art reimagined in a contemporary scene. There are regular exhibitions of new, emerging and established artists. It is very special to witness a traditional heritage craft flourishing.

The Maori Renaissance is celebrated by Polly’s fingers.

For more information about What’s so great about Ahipara.

Te Whare Whiri Toi Galley @TeWhareWhiriToi
Te Whare Whiri Toi Galley @TeWhareWhiriToi

Tour Manea Footprints of Kupe is an interactive centre focused on retelling the story of the East Polynesian navigators and the emergence of Maori culture. Oral traditions, by their nature, are reinterpreted by each generation acting as a generational guardians. The promise of a dedicated centre enabling visitors to experience the stories is an exciting initiative for the Hokianga. A great opportunity for visitors to hear, from the locals the story of Polynesian navigation and the links of Maoris to the ocean, the people of the Pacific and how human migration has shaped identity and New Zealand.

To find out more about the Hokianga TOP-10 things to do in Hokianga, activities.

A harbour framed by soaring sand dunes is a majestic sight as drivers sweep around the curve into the Hokianga Harbour from Auckland. While there are natural marvels such as Koutu Boulders and glorious walks, the essence of Hokianga is its historical past and contemporary narratives of East Polynesian settlement and the birth of Maori culture. This tale is written large on the landscape of Hokianga.

Northland is a rich tapestry of art, culture and heritage for workshops and galleries to visit check out Northland Art Galleries, Workshops and Exhibitions worth a visit and get inspired.

Hokianga Harbour sand dunes, New Zealand
Hokianga Harbour sand dunes


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.

Related articles


If you have a query about content, travel deals or anything else, our team is happy to answer all your questions 🙂

    Your information is secure, no third party involved.
    100% Safe, secure, privacy guaranteed. Privacy Policy.