Where would you find the oldest dated wooden artefacts in New Zealand? Aotea Utanganui – Museum of South Taranaki has on display the Waitore Artefacts, the remains of what was possibly a waka repair yard destroyed by a tsunami around 1400. These artefacts tell us about the people who lived in South Taranaki over six hundred years ago. One piece, a haumi (bow cover) has been carved in a manner that is similar to current Polynesian carving and tattoo styles. This provides us with a visible link to our Pacific past.
Founded by the passionate collectors of the Pātea Historical Society in 1974, the museum’s displays reflect the eclectic and wide-ranging interests of the founders and subsequent donors. The exhibitions celebrate the rich history and culture of South Taranaki, and the pride that people feel in their district. We want our visitors to share in our riches, and enjoy the stories and objects from our past.
A large rock containing the fossilised jawbone of a baleen whale, spotted on Pātea beach by a staff member was identified by a visiting scientist from Te Papa. Now this fossil, from 3 ½ million years ago, enjoys pride of place in our display.
The stories of South Taranaki are celebrated in this museum – the changes that the telephone made to daily life are described by a former telephone exchange operator. You can listen to her on an original 1940s telephone.
The New Zealand Wars in Taranaki are illustrated with weaponry and artefacts. We honour the warriors from both sides – Titokowaru, Tūtange Waionui, Charles Broughton and James Livingston are just a few whose descendants live in the district today.
Farming and the joys of a rural lifestyle feature prominently. The inventiveness of South Taranaki people is celebrated in the stories and objects on display – a Gane pulsator, fence strainers, souvenir teapots and the many uses of old cheese crates!
The museum is at 127 Egmont St, Pātea; open from 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday, Closed Christmas and Good Friday. Entry is free.