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New Zealand’s geographic isolation has forged our identity as a country and as New Zealanders. We are a nation of innovators, of dreamers, and of pioneers. People who are driven to find their own course, to seek out new possibilities with imagination and conviction.
Nowhere is this expression of our New Zealand identity stronger than through our bond with the ocean. From the first discovery by Kupe, to one of the most courageous migrations by the Polynesian peoples, to Abel Tasman and then Cook. These pioneers forged our spirit of exploration and broke the boundaries of what people thought possible. Many of New Zealand's greatest maritime adventurers and explorers have emerged from this spirit, and the New Zealand Maritime Museum celebrates these people who sailed to the limits of their imagination.
Suitable for all ages, the Maritime Museum aims to provide a rewarding, enjoyable and unique discovery experience for present and future generations through the preservation and presentation of New Zealand’s maritime heritage.
We display and present items of national, regional, local and general maritime interest in a way that stimulates interest and preserves the items for the benefit of the people of New Zealand.
Our Gifted Māori Name
Hui Te Ananui A Tangaroa
When asked for an appropriate Māori title for the New Zealand Maritime Museum Sir Hugh Kāwharu proceeded to give a steer toward the ancient Māori and Polynesian understanding of Tangaroa as personification of the sea and its many powerful elements.
Sir Hugh gifted the name ‘Hui Te Ananui A Tangaroa’ to the museum. This is a traditional and universally understood name for the dwelling of Tangaroa, ‘an undersea haven; his home’ beneath the sea. The descriptions of Tangaroa are many, rich and vivid. And so too his dwelling in terms of its narratives in Māori lore, especially seen in the origins of whakairo (wood carving) and marae visual arts including ta moko (living skin art).
Tangaroa, Atua (guardian) has many personifications here and across the Pacific. Tangaroa, the controller of tides - he whose breathing makes the ebb and flow - taa ngā roa whakamautai, with connotations of the combined forces of waves, wind, moon, stars and the related forces of nature.
The Maritime Museum was first proposed in 1980 by a group of like minded individuals, many of whom were Auckland Harbour Board and United Steamship Company members. It was to house the growing collection of maritime archives within the Auckland Maritime Society and Auckland Museum collections, while establishing a New Zealand maritime history collection and exhibition facility. It was to be the first and only museum that dealt with New Zealand’s maritime history as a whole, and was to be called the Auckland Maritime Museum Hobson Wharf.
Auckland Maritime Museum Hobson Wharf opened in August 1993 with Dr. Rodney Wilson as its inaugural director. The name subsequently changed to the New Zealand National Maritime Museum. The New Zealand National title was bestowed by then Prime Minister the Hon. Jim Bolger in 1996.
The museum is run by the New Zealand National Maritime Museum Trust Board, a body incorporated under the Charitable Trusts Act 1957.
Founding Director, Dr Rodney Wilson, passed away 27 April 2013. View our tribute to a spectacular man. Read more.
Hui Te Ananui A Tangaroa, New Zealand Maritime Museum is home to the world’s greatest maritime pioneers. We are a place of stories that have defined our identity as New Zealanders. People who are driven to find their own course, to seek out new possibilities with imagination and conviction.
We are a place of dreams, daring feats, amazing journeys, burning ambition, passion, human endeavour, imagination, exploration, and courage. We are a living expression of our New Zealand identity through our bond with the ocean.
From the first discovery by Kupe, to one of the most courageous migrations by the Polynesian peoples, to Abel Tasman and then Cook, our spirit of exploration has been forged and the boundaries of possibility broken.
Our museum honours those people who sailed to the limits of their imagination.
To explore and unite people with the sea
What we do
To preserve, present, interpret, and celebrate Aotearoa New Zealand’s maritime heritage. Being a place of learning and understanding: engaging our audience through unique maritime experiences
Guiding our decision making
To strengthen our identity by protecting and sharing Aotearoa New Zealand’s Nga Taonga o te moana o Tangaroa
Respect and value all of our stories, all of our Taonga Moana and all of our relationships
Working together to achieve best practice
Courageous & Curious
To explore, to challenge, to be bold, to be innovative. Being active and growing through curiosity
Being smart and creative
To have integrity in all that we do
Annual Plan 2017/18
For the museum’s current annual plan click here.