The museum presents the Islands’ natural and social history. Displays include rocks, fossils (including dinosaurs), rare birds and other wildlife found on the Islands. Items portraying the distinctive lifestyle of the earliest settlers, the Moriori, are displayed, together with those relating to early European visitors and settlers (sealers, whalers, traders and missionaries) and later Maori and later European farmers. As settlements developed so did a distinctive way of life based on innovation, enforced by isolation and the need to be self-sufficient.
The museum holds an extensive collection of photographs and significant archives where history can be researched.
The Chatham Islands Museum was established in 1971 in a room in the Waitangi store. With Council and community support the collections increased and in 1976 an appeal was launched for funds to build a separate museum.
In March 1979 the current museum was opened, housed in the Council Building at Waitangi and in 2010 a Museum Trust was set up to oversee the management and conservation of the collections. The Trust is supported by annual funding from the Council, donations and grants from New Zealand funding bodies.
Open: Monday to Friday 8:30am – 4:30pm (except public holidays) with staff onsite till 1pm daily.
Initial concept plans for the exhibition themes and displays have been prepared and community consultation is underway. Funding applications have been lodged with Lotteries Environment and Heritage and the Regional Culture and Heritage Fund for the building. Further funding is also needed for the fit-out of the exhibition gallery and back-of-house rooms. This is an important initiative and will provide a much-needed community asset and an outstanding new all-weather visitor attraction.
Donations can be made directly to the Chatham Islands Museum Trust.