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Other Displays at The Kauri Museum

The Kauri Museum is dedicated to providing visitors new and fascinating displays which provide both education and entertainment. Keep an eye on this page for information on the latest displays at The Kauri Museum, Matakohe. 

The Kauri Museum Arts Trail 
The Kauri Museum was established in 1962 to preserve the history of local pioneers through the theme of the giant kauri tree, the second largest tree in the world. Although internationally renowned for its excellent exhibits and stories of the early pioneers, The Kauri Museum has, until recently, been overlooked for its art collection.

With the unveiling of local artist Dennise Brownlie's mural depicting the bullock teams of the pioneering era, The Kauri Museum also launched its own 'Arts Trail' within the museum. This enables visitors to enjoy the many art forms that are in the various halls of our Northland museum; including significant paintings by New Zealand artists John Holmwood, Garth Tapper and Turkington, to name a few.

The Kauri Museum, Matakohe features kauri sculptures, ranging from bowls and statues to a large tuatara and massive archway; woven pictures and marquetry; antique kauri furniture; lifelike mannequins; early photographic collections; exquisitely carved kauri gum; and in the Kauri Museum Shop, a wonderful range of New Zealand handmade crafts.

For the admirer of such arts, be sure to ask for the 'Arts Trail' guide, which leads visitors to these works of art throughout our Northland heritage museum. Travelling around Northland? Please click here for more information on the Northland Arts Trail.

Life-Size Bullock Team Mural Adds to Sawmill Display
Two life-size bullock teams have been painted in a new mural in the Sawmill exhibit at the The Kauri Museum, Matakohe. This mural is 15 metres long and 4.2 metres high. The mural depicts two bullock teams with two local 'bullockies', bringing a log to the sawmill.

Also in the mural is a bush shanty with a mother holding a baby in her arms and her children standing in the doorway. This mural clearly shows how difficult life was for women in the bush. The Sawmill exhibition showcases original equipment from a real mill and includes a range of saws for 'breaking down' the big logs; showing how they were converted into planks. The saws are driven by slow motion hidden electric motors.

Operational Machinery
When the kauri bush was felled, the landscape changed, and settlers' farms were developed. With this era came internal combustion power. The Operational Machinery display shows the first stationary engines used to power milking machines, shearing sheds, firewood saws and other machinery driven by counter shafts. The 1929 'Cat 60' was one of the first of its kind in New Zealand and replaced the power of 112 bullocks that used to haul the massive logs. The ‘Cat 60’ is the pride and joy of this display.

Engine Enthusiasts meet at The Kauri Museum every Wednesday to tend their 'old girls'. Among the old engines are Listers, Andersons and Twiggs that date back to early 1900s. The entrance to the Operational Machinery wing is through a pioneer hut and the exit under 'Shepherding in a new Era', a photographic mural of the first flocks of sheep being driven through the remnants of the forest.

Swamp Kauri Sculpture
A unique sculpture of a seat, carbon dated as a 35,000 year old stump, is at The Kauri Museum. The seat has been carved inside the heart of a swamp kauri stump that had previously been dragged from a boggy swamp at Kai Iwi Lakes. Another large kauri sculpture called the 'Transition Gateway' can be found in the Volunteers Hall.

The Restoration of the Kauri Forest
Staff at the museum is often asked ‘What is happening to the kauri today?’ In partnership with the Waipoua Forest Trust, The Kauri Museum, Matakohe is proud to display the magnificent photograph collection of ecologist Stephen King. These photographs tell a wonderful story of Tane Mahuta and the work that is being done by the Waipoua Forest Trust which is not only looking after the majestic big kauri of the Waipoua Forest, but the planting of a new forest.

Post Office and Telephones
From 1909 to 1988 the kauri-built post office acted as a centre for the local community. Services offered included postal, banking, telephone, marriage licenses, and official government applications. The office display features dressed models and original equipment.

The Matakohe Post Office was purchased by The Kauri Museum in 1989 and was shifted to the Museum grounds. We can now show future generations how the post office operated as a Government Agent and how it provided many important services to the local people.

The Post Office was the centre of every rural community. It provided communication with the outside world by not only postal services, but with telephone exchanges. In November 2003 an exhibition of old telephones and the manual telephone exchange was opened in the Postmaster's Residence.

Gum Diggers
The gum diggers, Steve and Bob, show what conditions were like on the gum fields. The spears were used to find kauri gum pieces in the ground which were then dug up using spades. Pieces of rough gum contrast with the polished pieces displayed next to this scene. A large mural by Garth Tapper, behind the gum diggers, places these figures in a typical swampy, scrubby area where the gum was found. It is easy to understand how these men worked so hard that the sweat dripped from their brows. 

Large Mill Machinery
A band saw, frame saw and planer were opened to the public in November 2000. The huge band saw has 42 feet of toothed-ribbon steel moving slowly through a large swamp kauri log. With 7 foot diameter wheels, it is an impressive exhibit. The frame saw shows how big timber is cut into a number of boards in one pass through the saw. Several blades are held in a frame which moves up and down to cut the timber.

This saw is unusual because of its huge size and two gates for different sized timber. Sawn timber was first planed to a smooth finish with hand planes. The four sided planer shows how machinery was used to plane four sides at once. Special shaped knives were used in the machine to cut moldings, weatherboards and tongue and groove boards.

The SawMill
A real mill, originally from Hawkes Bay, shows how logs were sawn into timber. Saws, flat belts, countershafts, pulleys and steam engines all move (driven by hidden electric motors) and lifelike mannequins bring this concept to life. Large sawmill machinery, including a band saw and cant frame saw planer, demonstrate changes in technology. Technology changes are shown in a fascinating display of 120 chainsaws.

Sterling Wing

Bride’s Bedroom 
The Kauri Museum Sterling Wing showcases a colonial house full of authentic furniture, fittings and ornaments. Dressed lifelike mannequins add an almost eerie realism to the scenes of our Northland attraction. The Bride’s Bedroom features a bride in her lovely wedding dress. The furniture is a set using kauri and puriri burr veneer and a brass bed gleams, including an intricate hand-worked bedcover. An ornately carved fire surround and hand painted kauri screen complete the picture.

The Kitchen
This kitchen in the colonial house at The Kauri Museum is typical of the early 1900 period. Kauri timber lines the walls and a wood fire is used for cooking and to heat the room. A beautiful mottled kauri sideboard and elaborate table setting also grace the room.

Smith Wing – The Nikau Hut
Life in the kauri bush was tough. The men who worked on the kauri gum fields and in the bush often lived in little huts. This display shows Trev working in one of these huts.

Mannequins and lifelike models featured throughout the museum are based on real people. The face of each mannequin is made from a facial imprint, which has been taken from descendants of original settlers to the Matakohe area.
Spider trapped in amber
Caterpillar 60
cutting a kauri log with a chainsaw
Saw mill engine
Bride's Room Recreation
5 Church Rd
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