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Collection Highlights


A Fantastic Swimsuit Collection
A Fantastic Swimsuit Collection

Every summer locals and visitors alike flock to the Bay of Plenty coastline to swim, surf and enjoy long warm days. While Māori swam, flew kites, and surfed using wooden planks and small canoes, Pakeha have only been enjoying beach life, as we know it, for the last 120 years. Except for the occasional male taking a scandalous skinny-dip, nineteenth century immigrants were slow to get in the sea. T...

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60s Summers and the Gale Collection
60s Summers and the Gale Collection

A long hot summer spent outdoors is a tradition many Tauranga residents have been fortunate enough to enjoy over the years. The Tauranga Heritage Collection has more than 2000 photographic slides taken by Robert Gale during 1960s that capture these summer days. Robert Gale and his family moved to Tauranga in the early 1960s and he taught at Merivale School until his retirement. Photography was a ...

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Anchored at Home Again
Anchored at Home Again

Several years ago the Tauranga Heritage Collection embraced the return of a mahe (Māori anchor/sinker stone) found by the late Mr Noel Sharp some seventy-five years ago on the beach front directly below the old Otumoetai Pa. The pa, which belonged to the Ngamarama people, was referred to by missionaries as the capital of Tauranga. According to archaeologists ‘fishing was a key activity for the pe...

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Charlie Haua, a local legend
Charlie Haua, a local legend

The doors to the Tauranga District Museum opened on December 20, 1969. Located on the corner of Durham and Hamilton Streets, it housed the beginnings of the Tauranga Heritage Collection and was visited by an enthusiastic public. Central to the collection’s establishment was the purchase of a blacksmith’s shop belonging to the legendary blacksmith, Charlie Haua. The decision to purchase Haua’s sho...

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Dick Baker’s WW2 Letters
Dick Baker’s WW2 Letters

Earlier this year the Tauranga Heritage Collection received a most generous donation of 83 letters written by local WW2 soldier Richard Baker. The Baker family lived in Gate Pa, Tauranga. Richard Baker, always called Dick, was second youngest of eight siblings. His WW2 journey is shared through his letters to his parents, sisters Mary, Lilian and Rachel and brother Hal. Dick served in Egypt from ...

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Living Pictures
Living Pictures

For more than 100 years winter in Tauranga has been a good time of year to ‘go to the pictures.’ The first hall in Tauranga to show ‘living pictures’ was the Theatre Royal. Located in Harington Street it was built in 1866 and had many uses before travelling cinematographers arrived in the late 1890s. The first films shown gave audiences a glimpse of Boer War troops, royalty and a Māori gathering i...

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May Christmas Mirth Wed New Year Joy
May Christmas Mirth Wed New Year Joy

The first Christmas card wish of ‘A Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’ was sent in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, the founder of the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) in London. Sir Henry was overwhelmed by the task of sending handwritten Christmas greetings to all his friends and family. His solution was to commission artist John Calcott Horsley to paint a card and have his Christmas wish printed ...

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A Summer Tour
A Summer Tour

When Queen Elizabeth II visited New Zealand in the summer of 1963, ten years after the first tour, her every move was followed and documented by an adoring public and press. Her brief stop in Tauranga was no exception. ‘For this, her first visit to the Bay of Plenty borough, the Queen wore vivid jade green … the difficult shade indeed suited her admirably. The dress was tussore silk made very sim...

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A royal collection
A royal collection

With the recent visit of Prince Charles and Camilla to New Zealand it got me wondering if any royal souvenirs marked the occasion. Collectible objects celebrating royalty have been in demand since the 17th Century. However, is this still the case? When Charles II married Catherine de Braganza of Portugal in 1662 a souvenir coin was cast in silver. No stranger to being immortalised in this fashion...

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Memento mori, remember your mortality
Memento mori, remember your mortality

This lock of hair I once did wear But now I trust it to your care Look oft at this And think of me When I am far away from thee Anonymous, Mourning Scrapbook 1849    Cherishing a lock of hair has long been associated with enduring love. In bereavement, jewelry made of hair served to remind the wearer of their loss. After the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert, Queen Victoria did m...

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Scones for Supper
Scones for Supper

A research enquiry for a good old fashioned scone recipe meant an opportunity to delve into the Tauranga Heritage Collection’s cookbook collection. Amongst the more than one hundred cookbooks, The “Peace” Recipe Book caught my eye. Also part of Te Papa and Auckland Museum’s collections, they record the date of publication as circa 1919, noting that the cover ‘depicts a WW1 soldier with his right ...

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Mr Pillans’ Albatross Head
Mr Pillans’ Albatross Head

To some, a mounted albatross head may seem like an grotesque wall decoration but in 1890, when this head was gifted to William Soutau Pillans II (1849-1915), it proudly graced his family home.The albatross head was a present from the famous ornithologist Walter Buller (1838-1906) as thanks for bird illustrations drawn by Pillans. A keen collector of bird specimens Buller is best known for his famo...

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