The museum also holds a large collection of surfboards, many of which are on display in the exhibition Te Moana, and a collection of material from the Star of Canada.
Explore the collection on our online database. We are continually updating and improving the online collection and regularly add new objects.
Visit our Donations page for more information.
See our Recent Acquisitions page for information about new additions to the collection.
Researchers can view collections that are not on display by making an appointment with the Museum Collection Manager. Staff can also take small group tours through the collection storage facilities by appointment. Please note that staff are not always available immediately and it is advisable to make arrangements as far in advance as possible, particularly if you are only visiting Gisborne for a short period.
Researchers who are unable to visit in person can make their enquiry by email, letter or telephone
The museum displays works from the social history collection in semi-permanent and short term exhibitions.
Wyllie Cottage is the oldest European house still standing in the Gisborne area and also a popular tourist attraction. It was restored and refurbished in 2016. You can find out more about this project on our blog. The cottage was built in the early days of the township of Gisborne for Keita (Kate) and James... Read more »
Watersheds | Ngā Wai Pupū is Tairāwhiti Museum’s semi-permanent exhibition which gives the visitor a snapshot of the history of the Gisborne/East Coast region. Our exhibition forms a river that flows through the history of Tairāwhiti. Beginning with Māori accounts of how the world began and where people came from, this river of history finishes in... Read more »
The Te Moana Maritime Gallery offers a glimpse into 1000 years of maritime myths, legends, stories and development of the Tairawhiti East Coast region. Also included in this gallery is the arrival of Captain James Cook, the development of Gisborne’s harbour, local shipwrecks, surfing in this region, the fishing industry and surf life saving.
Explore the two-storied wheel- house and captain’s cabin of the Star of Canada, a cargo steamer wrecked on rocks on the Gisborne foreshore on 23 June 1912. Built at Belfast in October 1909 by Messrs Workman Clark and Co, the Star of Canada was a twin screw general cargo steamer of 7,280 tons gross (12,000... Read more »
The museum is offered many interesting items for the collection over the course of the year. Often they are seemingly ordinary, everyday objects, but what makes each of them special and worthy of collecting is the wonderful stories they can tell us about our region’s history. This wicker basket is certainly one such object. This basket was used by William Hamilton (known as Ham) Hannah (b. 1920, d.1967) to deliver bread for Walter Findlay’s Bakery in the 1930s. Ham would have delivered bread around Gisborne by horse and cart. A few people out there may remember having bread delivered by him, perhaps using this basket! Ham served as a Driver in the Army Service Corps in the Second World War and continued to work as a driver when he returned to Gisborne after the war. In the 1960s, he was the Custodian at Churchill Park. He was married to Sarah (Sadie) and they had four children. We would like to thank Julie Hannah for gifting her father-in-law’s breadbasket to the museum.
Family photographs are one of our greatest personal treasures. The family photo album is the one item people consider they would ‘grab’ in a fire. We see them as a collection of life’s memories rather than an assemblage of images. The museum regularly receives donations of family photographic collections. Some are beautifully set out and... Read more »
All welcome at the museum for the opening of Ambitious Gisborne Women
We welcome ideas for new projects and exhibitions so if you have something in mind, please get in touch – we would love to hear from you!