Northland, single collections, unusual objects
Discover cool collections from clocks, boat building tools, whaling fleshing knives to beautifully woven Maori textiles in Northland. Many of these collections are housed in quiet rural communities. Quirky stories and hidden gems found in small towns are part of our KIWI TOWNS series. Often the towns are on one of our road trips creating a one of a kind holiday experience. For more information about what to do and see in Northland check out Northland travel guide.
It’s raining … museums, collections are indoors (mostly).
CLOCKS – WHANGAREI
Claphams National Clock Museum
Archibald Clapham, clock collector is the genesis behind the popular museum located in Whangerei. Cuckoo clocks, crazy skeleton clocks, how the world has measured the passing of time, the Claphams Clock Museum is a fascinating insight into the engineering feats of building the perfect clock.
HUNDERTWASSER CENTRE – A SINGLE INDIVIDUAL – WHANGAREI
ARTIST, ARCHITECT, DESIGNER
Experience art and nature in perfect harmony in a unique architectural project dedicated to artist, visionary and ecological activist, Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Combined with Wairau Māori Art Gallery is home to the finest examples of contemporary Māori art and is designed to promote and enhance Te Ao Māori. The love affair between Hundertwasser and Aotearoa New Zealand endures and is celebrated with this collection.
A visit to Kawakawa is a must for lovers of Hundertwasser.
WHALING – BUTLER POINT WHALING MUSEUM
Butler Point Whaling Museum has a beautiful setting with its gardens and views of Northland. Mangonui was a major whaling hub. The detailed graphic photographs, the large fleshing hooks and the whaling boat all capture the spirit of the age. A must-go destination for heritage buffs.
KAURI – TIMBER – MATAKOHE
The harvested tree is visually stunning. The kauri timber has a deep honey hue and its tough durability made the tree a very valuable commodity. Kauri Musuem tracks the story of the kauri, its uses as a wood resource and the impact of wholesale mass harvesting on one of the ancients of the New Zealand forest. An evocative and fascinating story. The museum is an excellent place to find out about 19th century domestic life in Northland, view an extensive collection of kauri gum, gum digger paraphernalia with lifelike mannequins modelled after real early settlers.
TREATY OF WAITANGI – WAITANGI
A museum, a collection and a living repository for stories, documentaries and objects relating to the signing of the treaty between British Imperial Government and Maori inhabitants of Aotearoa New Zealand. While the treasured document was hauled around the country for a comprehensive signing festival, the site of the initial settlement is a keystone of modern New Zealand history. A must-go destination for visitors to New Zealand.
Strongly recommended a guided tour with the locals who will provide insights into the mechanics of the treaty, the treaty significance for Maori and its continued importance in contemporary life.
The grounds are impressive with a sweep of grass to a sandy foreshore.
BOAT BUILDING – SHIPYARDS – TOTARA NORTH
Explore a hidden gem in Northland. TE MAMA MUSEUM is an extraordinary collection of tools and boat building equipment from the mid 19th century to mid-20th. Totara North local Bruce Sanderson is preserving history with a self funded museum. Te Mama is described by NZPlaces as, “a museum to rival Te Papa, Te Mama is the lifetime collection of Bruce Sanderson, including many important industrial relics from Lane and Browns Shipbuilders and Sawmill and other taonga from throughout Whangaroa Harbour.” The museum is located in an old joinery factory. The Northland artist Chris Wilkie painted the exterior. Access to the museum is via a phone number posted on the entrance.
SCOTTISH KILTS IN THE FAMILY TREE – WAIPU GALLIC (SCOTTISH) MUSEUM
Waipu Museum is a heritage repository for all things Scottish. A genealogical record of the Nova Scotia immigration story of 1860’s is thoroughly researched and presented in the slick innovative Museum located opposite the Coronation Hall on the main street. There are personal narratives of the immigrant experience, bag pipes including video recording and a plethora of artefacts, memorabilia and objects telling the story of the emerging New Zealand identity. A great gift shop for those who missed the market. The Waipu Museum is extraordinary for a small community to achieve the internationally recognised standard of excellence in storytelling.
MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS – ACCORDIAN – DARGAVILLE MUSEUM
Dargaville Museum, look for the accordion collection, including the well known Kevin Friedrich accordian collection and find out what it was like to be a kauri gumdigger. Kaipara Vintage Machinery Park with its stunning views of the Kaipara Harbour is part of Harding Park. Pou Tu Te Rangi complex includes the museum’s replica Gumdiggers site, the Rainbow Warrior’s masts, Vintage Machinery Club and the Pou tu te Rangi Pa site. And neighboring the park is the old Mt Wesley Cemetery. The panoramic park overlooks the Northern Wairoa River with picnic tables and walking / cycling trails.
MAORI FLAX / TEXTILE COLLECTIONS – AHIPARA
While not a museum collection the gallery is a living repository of Maori artisan textiles quietly flourishing in its rural setting. A great way to understand the importance of flax, weaving and skills involved. Te Whare Whiri Toi Galley is an extensive collection of local Maori artisan items from carvings, flax woven baskets, purses, bags and wall hanging is worth a detour to Ahipara. The gallery is a glorious celebration of Maori cultural art reimagined in a contemporary scene. There are regular exhibitions of new, emerging and established artists.
FOOTSTEPS OF KUPE – A SINGLE INDIVIDUAL – OMAPARE
Polynesian navigator and voyager.
Find the adventurer within yourself as you hear the story of an individual who has inspired legends. The East Polynesian navigator, Kupe has his place cementing the oral legends into a multisensory journey of guided storytelling – through art, taonga (cultural treasures) and film. There is visitor digital interaction combined with the splendour of Hokianga’s natural surroundings creating a unique cultural experience. A must-go destination for heritage buffs and those wanting to explore the origins of human settlement in Aotearoa New Zealand.
PUZZLES, CROSSWORDS AND THE PUZZLE SHOP – RAWENE
When a shop becomes a museum of collectables … Simply FUN, the puzzle store owned and operated by a world class puzzle maker. It’s fascinating and for anyone who is interested in puzzles this is a must-go destination in Hokianga. The building was rented by the local barrister, David Longley, the vaunt for his papers former PM of NZ is still on the premises.
Opposite the triangle shaped building is Clendon House, a heritage New Zealand location.
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