02 January 2014

Tawhiti Museum

On my pre-Christmas drive up to Auckland I took a detour through Taranaki, spending the night in New Plymouth for the first time in nearly a decade. It was nice to revisit that part of New Zealand, but in the absence of the closed-for-refurbishment Govett-Brewster gallery the highlight of the trip was my first visit to the Tawhiti Museum on the northern outskirts of Hawera. Nigel Ogle's museum is a labour of love depicting two centuries of New Zealand history using historical exhibits, dioramas and his expertly crafted mannequins.

The museum emphasises colonial history and rural machinery, with displays of country workshops, general stores and blacksmiths. Out the back there's a hangar full of gleaming vintage tractors, plus in an annex there's the transplanted study of Hawera's own larrikin author, Ronald Hugh Morrieson, whose four books have all been made into New Zealand films - The Scarecrow, Came A Hot Friday and Pallet on the Floor in the 1980s and Predicament in 2010. As I only had an hour before closing time at the museum I didn't get to try the Traders & Whalers exhibit boat ride, but that looks impressive too. I'll just have to go back for a second visit.

Tangarakau mining settlement model, depicting c.1930

Detail of an enormous Musket Wars diorama

Chew Chong (Chau Tseung), one of the early heroes of Taranaki settlement

Kitchen diorama

Spooky life-size OAP mannequin

Morrieson study exhibit

Burrell 8N HP steam tractor (1905)
See also:
NewsFailed Te Ngutu Golf Club burglary, 1 November 2013
Blog: Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre, 29 January 2012
Blog: A sunny day over Taranaki, 27 August 2011
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