History of the Museum

The Kapiti Coast Museum is housed in what was the original Post Office of Waikanae built in 1907.

The Post Office was closed down in 1981 and moved to the town centre,  Mahara Place.   In  1981  a small group of radio enthusiasts, upset at the loss of so many  old radio sets  and other communications items, had begun collecting and storing pre-World War II equipment in their garages and sheds.

The first meeting of the Waikanae District Museum was held in October 1983 with  the Horowhenua County Council offering  the proposed museum the use of the old  building.

This meant that the new Museum was now an integral part of what  was once Parata Township, now Elizabeth Street, Waikanae, the beginning of Waikanae town. More information about the township can be found in the Museum’s records.

The Museum became an Incorporated Society in 1984. When the museum was established the New Zealand Post & Telegraph Department donated a significant amount of out-dated telephone and telegraph equipment including the original Waikanae Telephone Exchange (in use from 1897 to 1917) and the exchange that replaced it.  These remain as valued exhibits.

Along with radio and communications equipment, including a Ham Radio “Shack”, the museum is now home to extensive displays of everyday life from earlier times on the Kapiti Coast.

The building, leased from the Kapiti Coast District Council,  is now a Category 2 New Zealand Historic Places Trust Building.