Far North Regional Museum

The museum at Te Ahu Heritage holds a remarkable collection. Its purpose is to illuminate the stories and histories of the Far North District (Te Hiku o te Ika) of New Zealand.

Treasures among the pre-European Maori collection include pounamu, early carvings and the 500 year-old skeletal remains of the extinct kuri (Polynesian dog).

Other major themes are gum digging and the Dalmatians, kauri gum and timber, early shipwrecks and missionary pioneers.

The museum has a large archives collection - documents, journals, newspapers, maps and photographs from the extensive Northwood Collection. It is the proud home of the first European item left in New Zealand, the mighty de Surville anchor.

On Friday 18 October 1940, the Centennial Memorial Library and Rest Room was officially opened by the Hon. W.E. Parry, Minister of Internal Affairs. Funded by public subscription and government subsidy, the building was the district's New Zealand Centennial Memorial.

Centenial Building

By 1967, the library had outgrown the premises and as interest in establishing a museum grew, a suggestion was put to the council that the old library building would be suitable as a repository to house artefacts and documents relating to our Far North people and district. The council agreed, providing funds were raised by the public to relocate the library and establish a museum.

Fundraising commenced in 1968 when Ivan Berghan, County Chairman, and Des Bell, Mayor, formally made donations. Foundation Memberships were available to the public for $100, and Life Membership for $20. Generous financial support came from the regional councils, private donations and public fund-raising events.

As part of the Queen Carnival, a ‘mini museum’ was set up on the top floor of Vegar's Drapery Store where Arthur Northwood’s Collection of over 400 photographs were displayed for the first time. As interest grew to establish a museum, the committee received numerous donations of display items for the exhibits.

The Far North Regional Museum opened in December 1969.

From 1976 to 1985, Judy Evans was custodian and ran the Tourist Information Centre operating from the museum, assisted by an enthusiastic team of volunteers. During the 1980s, Olwyn Ramsey, recognising the need to collect historical documents about the district and its people, established the archives within the museum.

The discovery of the de Surville anchor provided a major boost of publicity for the museum and a new addition was added to the old building to house the anchor, discovered by Mike Bearsley, and the growing collection.

In 2012, the museum and archives relocated to the new Te Ahu Centre and Te Ahu Heritage was born.

Opening Hours

Museum

  • Monday to Friday -
    8.30am to 5:00pm

Te Ahu