Collections & Research

The Museum exhibits a diverse range of nautical and historical artefacts that represent New Zealand maritime history from the earliest Polynesian arrivals to modern day seafaring. We collect maritime equipment, models, books, photographs, paintings, drawings, original archival material and periodicals relating to New Zealand maritime history, excluding material relating to Royal New Zealand Navy history and activities.

Our acquisitions programme is centred on specific areas:

  • Polynesian and Maori vessels and navigation
  • European voyages of discovery
  • Settlement and immigration
  • Early coastal trading
  • Whaling and sealing
  • Modern commercial shipping
  • Lifeboat services, pilotage and coastguard activities
  • Navigation and marine surveying
  • Maritime art and crafts
  • Recreation and sporting maritime activities
  • Maritime trades
  • Harbour and port history 

Reserve collection

Not all of the objects in our collection are on permanent display. Those objects not displayed are referred to as our 'reserve collection' and are mainly stored off-site. We recommend you call or email before you visit if there is a particular item that you wish to see as we do provide access to objects in the reserve collection by appointment.

World War 100

The centenary of New Zealand's participation in the First World War is being celebrated across the country with special events, projects and activities from 2014-2019. Check out the latest World War One related stories on the Museum blog, and stay up to date with the restoration of our World War One motor launch, Nautilus.

To find out more about the nationwide activities and events taking place as part of the centenary, visit the official WW100 website.