Emerging Museum

Author: Robert BickerDate: 11/6/23

When I opened Tiritiri Matangi’s emerging museum to our maritime history, many who come to the island for the birds are somewhat surprised and delighted to see a museum too. The lighthouse maybe iconic, but not too many expect to see a display in progress to the history of these icons. Talk turns to how it came about, a series of events is the answer.

If our last keeper, Ray Walter had not had the vision he and many others shared to bring about the conservation sanctuary the island now is, the lighthouse museum would probably not have eventuated. Not until I got involved did, I truly understand the level of interest turning to passion globally there are these historic structures with many hundreds of societies to their preservation.

The collection of artefacts we already have, helps to tell the story of a keeper’s life. How the light operated before electricity and the ingenuity of those keepers how to make them work reliably. One could say it’s the ultimate multi-faceted role. You needed to be a mechanic, electrician, cook, fisherman, meteorologist, radio operator, shepherd, bookkeeper, and a very helpful if you’re, in this case, a part-time ornithologist.

With the soon to be erected mast by the signal station that was used in days gone by for signalling ships and the Auckland docks, the ways of old and how it worked will be complete, another reason to visit the renowned motu.

Ray Walter in the museumPhoto credit: Geoff Beals