Aotea Utanganui’s Heritage Collection contains a treasure trove of objects, papers, photographs, audio visual material and maps – all of which provide a link to South Taranaki’s past. These collections have existed in South Taranaki for decades, and in our care, will last for decades to come.
Aotea Utanganui has on display the Waitore Artifacts, the remains of what was possibly a waka repair yard destroyed by a tsunami around 1400. These artifacts tell us about the people who lived in South Taranaki over six hundred years ago, and are the oldest dated wooden artifacts in New Zealand. One piece, a haumi (bow cover) has been carved in a manner that is similar to current Polynesian carving and tattoo styles. For further reading on the Waitore Artifacts download the Stylistic Affinities of the Waitore Site (N136/16) Assemblage NZJA1.109-114Lawlor by Ian Lawlor from University of Auckland.
A large rock containing the fossilised jawbone of a baleen whale (pictured above), 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.
Our natural landscapes in South Taranaki are also very distinctive. Kyle Bland from GNS Science shows how the fossils at Waihi Beach reveal the story of an uplifting landscape.
The New Zealand Wars in Taranaki are illustrated with weaponry and artifacts. 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. For more about the Taranaki Wars you can watch the New Zealand Wars Documentary Series about Taranaki below.
Search Our Collections
Search our collection here on our NZ Museums page. We are constantly adding new images and objects to our database so keep looking for a new, refreshed collection every month.