Bill Laxon Maritime Library

The Bill Laxon Maritime Library contains one of the most comprehensive collections of New Zealand maritime history in its book and periodical collections. There are in addition hundreds of vessel plans, maritime charts relating to the New Zealand coast line and over 400,000 images of predominantly 20th century vessels.

The library also contains a collection of maritime archives the largest is the Auckland Harbour Board Archives which contains over one million items.

The library is a valuable resource for the Museum. It plays an important part in preserving our maritime heritage and is a remarkable summary of our nation’s published history.

The library is a key component when preparing items for exhibition, not only as a source of material for display, but also to ensure the historical accuracy of exhibitions’ composition and presentation.


The Library manages a number of databases which contain a diverse range of maritime history and information. All of these databases are available to view online.

  • NZ Maritime Index - An index of published articles about ships and maritime personnel.
  • NZ Maritime Record - In depth information on passenger ships serving New Zealand, and other famous New Zealand vessels.
  • Northern Steamship Co. - The history of this famous maritime company, including vessel photographs.


The Library holds the following archives:

  • Auckland Harbour Board collection 1871-1985
  • Northern Steam Ship Company 1895-1982
  • Devonport Steam Ferry Company minute book 16 June 1931 to 23 November 1944
  • Aspden Shipping Company 1922-1966

To ask our Librarian a question or request information, please complete an online enquiry and we’ll be in contact with you shortly. Research fees apply.

Bill Laxon

The Maritime Museum's library was named after Bill Laxon, a passionate user of the library who authored and co-authored books detailing the history of shipping companies and wrote many articles telling the stories behind individual ship names.

Bill was a founding member of the Auckland Maritime Society that developed the proposal for the current museum, and he was responsible for the establishment of the Auckland Maritime Society's library within the Bill Laxon Maritime Library collection.

Opening hours & fees

The library is open to the public every Thursday from 10am - 4pm. 

  • Entry fee is $10.00 per visit
  • Photocopying available at cost
  • Research fee $60.00 per hour

Some exciting changes are happening to the Library and Collections areas. It has taken 13 years and four different plans to finally make everything happen. The...

Ivy Pellow / photographer Michael Willson Courtesy New Zealand Women’s Weekly

At the time of her launch, RMS QUEEN MARY was the gem of the Cunard Line and the largest and fastest ship to be constructed in the UK since the 1920s...


Memories from the past. An online exhibition of four stories from our ANZAC history.

House flag, Shaw Savill & Albion Line. New Zealand Maritime Museum

Shaw Savill and Albion - one company, hundreds of voyages and thousands of emigrants to New Zealand  April – June 2016 Patrick Henderson’s Albion Line of...

Bean Rock Lighthouse prior to restoration at Beaumont Street May 1985. Auckland Harbour Board Public Relations Dept photograph collection. NZ Maritime Museum

Bean Rock Lighthouse: how she was saved, restored and replaced. Bean Rock Lighthouse is New Zealand’s oldest wooden lighthouse and also the sole surviving...

1940s-1990s image subject to copyright

Out of the Box, Edmiston Gallery, November 2015 to February 2016 What’s in an ad? Beach and swimwear advertisements, 1940s-1990s

R.M.S. Niagara. Gifted by Frank Wadsworth Jnr, New Zealand Maritime Museum

Out of the Box, Edmiston Gallery, September – October 2015 How did this photograph, which belonged to an Australian soldier arrive in New Zealand?

600 ton slipway nearly completed, wide view looking east towards Freeman’s Bay and City / G.P. Steel, photographer Auckland Harbour Board album 43, NZ Maritime Museum [19232]

The year 2015 marks a centenary event for Auckland of the maritime kind.

The first public day Hobson Wharf Maritime Museum 21/8/93 / Artist, John Nolan.

From concept through to the opening day, a Maritime Museum for Auckland was first mooted in a submission to the Auckland Harbour Board in December 1980.

SS ORONSAY, Australia Day Dinner 26 January 1958, Orient Line. Artist Mr Lynton Lamb. New Zealand Maritime Museum [14891]

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to eat stewed lettuce, ragout of wild boar, split lambs’ tongues, chow chow in syrup or cat’s tongues?

Auckland Harbour, showing the progress of the demolition of Point Britomart, Gore Street Jetty (built ca.1867), Customhouse Street East (now Customs Street East), St Paul's Church and three coasters left high and dry on the outgoing tide, 1876, taken from Queen Street Wharf / Burton Brothers photograph. Auckland Harbour Board photograph album no. 68 [19267]

150 years ago the immigrant ship GANGES brought to Auckland 470 plus Irish immigrants as part of the Waikato Immigration Scheme.