Whangārei’s landscape was formed millions of years ago, its valleys and mountains created by a fiery volcanic past. Explore this exciting geology and ecology through displays of fossils, maps, geological formations, and even stone tools. Creatures from our ancient landscape are visible as reconstructed skeletons, marine fossils, turtle shells, dried and preserved specimens. Meet our group of five ancient moa whose skeletons were recently discovered near Abbey Caves and date back to 2,000 years ago. You can also identify our native woods, plants and birds in the taonga on display such as cloaks, baskets, tools and carvings.
Whangārei has been home to different iwi (tribes) over the past 800 years. We are fortunate to care for taonga which connect us to the tupuna of Ngāi Tāhuhu, Ngā Puhi, Ngātiwai, Ngāti Pūkenga and Te Waiariki. Explore their rich history through displays of artwork, weaving, personal tools, clothing, weaponry and a very special waka tiwai.
As a hub connected by rivers, trails and sea, Whangārei Te Rerenga Paraoa has been a gathering place for war parties, trading parties and settlers from around the world. Artefacts from the significant 1846 Ruapekapeka battle, from land surveyers, missionaries, and new Dalmatian, French, Italian, British, Scottish and Chinese settlers reveal Whangārei’s early multicultural identity.
People from the Whangārei District have made huge contributions to various national and international wars. Share in their personal stories, here and abroad, through military artefacts and interviews on display. Learn about a significant local story of the sinking of the RMS Niagara just off the coast of Whangārei and the following recovery of gold blocks for the World War Two Allied effort. You can see items such as cutlery, hinges and even a chamber pot recovered from the shipwreck.
Learn about the transformation of Whangārei as a collection of kainga (villages) to a small town and eventually to becoming a city. Social history objects on display reflect the lives of local families, businesses, cultures and industries that have made Whangārei what it is today. These have been stored and displayed in Whangārei Museum since Robert Mair’s collecting in the 1880s right up to today.