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Auckland Museum

The Auckland War Memorial Museum

Tāmaki Paenga Hira (or simply the Auckland Museum) is one of New Zealand's most important museums and war memorials.

Located in the Auckland domain and viewable from the harbour, the museum has a huge collection of Maori and Pacific Island exhibits, the largest in New Zealand.

The Auckland War Memorial Museum.
The Auckland War Memorial Museum and Cenotaph

History

The large neoclassical building dates from 1929 with the copper-and-brass dome added during renovations in 2007. The origins of the Auckland Museum actually go back to 1852 when local citizens began a collection of items of natural history, entomology, geology, mineralogy, and ornithology.

In 1879 the collection was housed in a building on Princes Street, near Government House. However, this proved to be unsuitable as its glass roof made it too hot in summer and too cold in winter.

The present building was constructed at considerable cost to combine a war memorial dedicated to New Zealanders killed in World War I with a museum.

The temple-like building is made mainly of English Portland stone, with New Zealand Coromandel granite used for detailing. A concrete annexe was added in the 1950s to commemorate the Second World War.

Altogether, there are three floors of exhibits.

The neo-classical building dates from 1929.
The neo-classical building dates from 1929

Exhibits

Auckland is the world's largest Polynesian city so it is fitting the museum has such a vast collection dedicated to Pacific Island and Maori culture. These are on the ground floor and include a 25 metre-long war canoe (waka taua) that can seat 100 warriors and an original carved meeting house - the Hotonui meeting house - lined with geometric tukutuku panels.

Hotonui House - sculptured in 1878.
Hotonui House - sculptured in 1878

Other masterpieces on show from the Pacific Islands include musical instruments, weapons, and textiles from the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The Pacific Lifeways Room details everyday life in Maori and Pacific Island culture and includes a breadfruit sculpture of Kave, a fierce, female deity from the Caroline Islands.

The middle floor contains exhibits of natural history including specimens in glass cases alongside more modern multi-media presentations. Look out for a 3-metre tall moa (now extinct) and an 800 kg ammonite. This floor is great for school kids with lots of hands-on and discovery areas.

The upper floor - the Halls of Memory - has exhibits relating to the various conflicts that New Zealanders have been involved in. These begin with the conflicts of the 1860s between Maori and Pakeha and continue with World War I, World War II, and Vietnam. Particular attention is paid to the debacle at Gallipoli in World War I.

The museum has views over Auckland harbour.
The museum has views over Auckland harbour

Access, Hours & Tours

Auckland Domain
Parnell
Auckland 1010
New Zealand
Tel: 64 9 309 0443
www: aucklandmuseum.com

Postal address

Private Bag 92018
Victoria Street
West Auckland 1142
New Zealand

Map

Opened in 2017, Parnell Railway Station is very close by. It features the original, former Newmarket Station building. Alternatively, the Link Bus stops on Parnell Road or the museum is a 15-minute walk from the more recent Newmarket Station (Western/Southern lines) or 10 minutes from Grafton Station (Western Line).

Tours of the museum include performances of a Maori haka and poi dances. It is also possible to meet and chat with the performers. Specialist tours include the Secret Museum Tour and the Hidden Heritage Tour.

The museum also includes a shop and rooms can be hired for weddings, corporate events and school balls.

The annual ANZAC commemorations take place at dawn on April 25 at the Cenotaph outside the museum.

Title page from A Korao no New Zealand.
Title page from A Korao no New Zealand

Auckland Attractions

Other attractions in Auckland include 196 metre-tall Mt. Eden, Sky Tower and the Auckland Art Gallery. The New Zealand Maritime Museum and the Wallace Arts Centre are two further notable galleries. For animal lovers Auckland Zoo and Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium are must-sees. For shopping and eating visit the now trendy Ponsonby Road area.

Hotels in Auckland

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