Celebrating our 22nd Birthday

The Maritime Museum, just prior to opening in 1993 - NZ Maritime Museum Archives


This week marks the museum’s 22nd birthday here on Hobson Wharf, after the Right Hon. Jim Bolger Prime Minister of New Zealand cut a ceremonial ribbon on 19 August, 1993. We then opened our doors to the first members of the public two days later, on Saturday 21 August 1993.

Cunard Line Celebrates 175 years

Queen Mary 2 visiting Auckland in 2015

What could be more evocative of sea travel today than the names of the three Cunard liners: QUEEN MARY 2, QUEEN ELIZABETH and QUEEN VICTORIA.

Dining in luxury or travelling in a state room with a balcony may seem beyond the means of most people, but each year these ships call at ports around the world and take passengers on a voyage of a lifetime.

In May 2015, the three Queens helped celebrate the 175th anniversary of the Cunard Line by steaming together down the Mersey in Liverpool. They were watched by thousands of people who crammed every vantage point to see the ships.

600 ton slipway still in use after 100 years

600 ton slipway nearly completed, wide view looking east towards Freeman’s Bay and City

The year 2015 marks a centenary event for Auckland of the maritime kind. The 600 ton slipway in Westhaven was built by the Auckland Harbour Board to provide a maintenance access service for vessels up to 600 tons in displacement. The slipway was built to handle vessels up to 58 metres long and during her working life has seen a large variety of vessels.

Bean Rock Lighthouse - first lit 24 July, 1871

Bean Rock restored on Hikinui, November 1985


As the anniversary of Bean Rock lighthouse first being lit is upon us (on 24 July, 1871) and we host a special anniversary sailing, we take a look back at the both it's history and recent restoration work.

The Rainbow Warrior - 30 Years On

MV RAINBOW WARRIOR, Greenpeace ship model, Askew and Avery Modelmakers (NZ Maritime Museum Collection 2004.43.1)

10 July 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the bombing of the RAINBOW WARRIOR and the killing of a Greenpeace photographer by French Secret Agents.

New Zealand had been involved in protests against nuclear testing by France in French Polynesian from the mid 1960s. The tragic event at Marsden Wharf in Auckland outraged the nation, but also raised the country’s consciousness about Greenpeace and environmental issues.

Sarah Mathew: a new assessment of her life as explorer, diarist and early Aucklander

Sarah Mathew

 Tessa Duder is a versatile New Zealand writer who has crossed the Tasman under sail, lived as an expatriate wife and written several books on Auckland. She has long been interested in  Sarah Mathew as an under-recognised figure in Auckland’s 175-year history. Here she tells us about a new assessment of her life as explorer, diarist and early Aucklander :

A BIG thanks to all our Volunteers

Restoration is just one of the ways our volunteers help

This week (June 21 to 27) represents National Volunteer Week (NVW) in New Zealand. It is a fantastic chance to celebrate the invaluable knowledge, skill and time contributions given by Aotearoa’s past and present volunteers.


Tragedy at Sea

Coastal Trade - Maori Waka

The tragedy of losing a loved one to the sea can be too much to bear for some. The Tamaki Strait has been a place of many sea tragedies. On the 16 November 1853, 10 lives were lost when a waka carrying all manner of produce capsized in the Tamaki Strait off shore between Mellons Bay and Howick Beach. This area is known for its unpredictable winds.  Maori called Mellons Bay Okokino or bad wind. It was reported by the Daily Southern Cross newspaper that on the day  the weather had chopped up the sea and that despite throwing cargo overboard the waka was swamped by waves and tipped over.

Exploring Nautilus

Barry, Ian and Kevin in the workshop

By Liz Gordon

To find out what has been happening with the work on Nautilus these days, I visited the workshop at the rear of the Maritime Museum. The refurbishment of Nautilus is painstaking and slow, but is an active work in progress. Volunteers Ian Hollister, Barry  Eagland, David Blackmore and Don Liggins are the craftsmen who patiently work on her on Wednesdays. Last week I took advantage of an invitation to see what they’re doing,  both  on  the  wharf  and  in  the  workshop.

Rewa - a Long and Busy Life

1986 Auckland Anniversary Regatta, Sea Spray photograph collection, NZ Maritime Museum (19905-6)

Visitors to the New Zealand Maritime Museum love REWA, the 37 foot gaff cutter we have on display inside the museum, and we love having her here. She had a long and busy life before finding her new home at the museum in 1992.

REWA was originally named ROSALIE. She was built in the 1880s in the Coromandel, by a retired ship's carpenter, ‘Chips’ Hunter, for a local farmer. For her frames the builder used branches from pohutukawa trees growing along the shore, and her planking was kauri milled from trees growing on nearby hills.

The Auckland Harbour Board Memorial Beacon

Memorial Beacon Picture WW1 and new launch landings 1923

In 1915, the Auckland Harbour Board erected a memorial beacon to commemorate 40 of its employees who had enlisted in the First World War. Years later, the beacon was dismantled, put into storage, and eventually moved to a new location.

Love The Sea - World War I Hospital Ships

B/W pics from the era

New Zealand’s Hospital Ships Maheno and Marama captured New Zealand’s hearts 100 years ago and their memory continues to resonate both down the years and across the sea. In 1915 when the New Zealand Government was asked to contribute a hospital ship to the allied war effort, the Governor Lord Liverpool saw that this was a cause which the public would embrace.

A Tale of Modern Migration at 'White Night'

White Night at the Maritime Museum - the Prayas Theatre Company

During the recent White Night activities, the Museum played host to the Prayas Theatre Company, a local Indian theatre company who conceived and performed a modern tale of migration, accompanied by Indian folk music. The group performed several times that evening, to the gathered crowds, including Carolyn Cossey, a Creative Writing student from MIT,  who wrote about the captivating performance she saw during White Night.

Love Across the Sea

 Scrapbook made for Dutch immigrant Toni Tecklenburg (gifted by Toni Angell)

The Museum's Immigrants Gallery tells stories of some of the people who came to Aotearoa from the 1840s to the 1960s. One of these is Toni Tecklenburg, a Dutch immigrant, who emigrated to New Zealand as an 11 year old with her close family on a five week voyage on 'MS SIBAJAK' in 1952.

Volvo Ocean Race: The highs & lows of sailing the open seas

Team SCA in action in the Volvo Ocean Race. ​Image courtesy of Team SCA.

The Volvo Ocean Race Village for the Auckland stopover of the gruelling round the world event opens in Viaduct Harbour today, with the first of the race yachts expected to sail in tomorrow. While many of us will be soaking up the sun, sounds and champagne of the Race Village in Auckland's Viaduct, for the teams taking part, there's very little downtime.

Sweet Kathleen: a love story for Valentine's Day

Merchant Navy sweetheart brooch,  New Zealand Maritime Museum (2007.108.3)

This Valentine’s Day we've chosen one of the most romantic objects from the Museum's collection to share with you – a Merchant Navy sweetheart brooch – and like a good Valentine’s Day card its origins are a little obscure.

Volvo Ocean Race: Anticipating the arrival to Auckland

Team SCA competing in the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race

After 22 days at sea, SCA crew member Annie Lush anticipates the team's arrival to Auckland with a mixture of excitement and nerves. 

The City of Many Lovers (and Sails)

Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta and Queen Street Wharf from Smales Point 1864. Auckland Harbour Board photograph album no. 67.

The 175th Anniversary of the founding of Auckland city is being celebrated this weekend with a range of events on Auckland's waterfront, including the annual Ports of Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta.

The Māori name for Auckland is Tāmaki Makaurau, which is often translated as "City of a thousand (or many) lovers". The harbours and the fertile volcanic soils have made the region an attractive destination for centuries.

Life on board a tall ship: the night watch and keeping clean on the ocean

Twilight on board Breeze
It’s not all fun in the sun on board tall ship BREEZE! Here mate James Brock explains what it’s like sailing at night, as the crew make their way from the Bay of Islands down to Marsden Cove Marina for another week of public sailings. 

BREEZE sets sail in the Bay of Islands Regatta

Breeze sets sail in the 2015 Bay of Islands Regatta
BREEZE and her hardworking crew spent the last weekend in the Bay of Islands running public sailings alongside fellow tall ship, R Tucker Thompson. A highlight of the weekend was taking passengers out for the historic tall ships Regatta in Russell. Skipper Stuart takes a moment to reflect on the crew’s experience so far: