Two New Displays and Future Plans!

Our hardworking Committee is pleased to announce two new displays –


  • Women’s Suffrage in New Zealand. Celebrating the 125th Anniversary of Women gaining the right to the vote in 1893. 
  • Down Memory Lane. Display of photographs of then and now. A series of local photographs taken some 100 years ago and retaken in the present day.

 We are also working on a display of the old Waikanae Hack Racing Club memorabilia which will be on display from the beginning of August 2018. The Racing Club only existed from 1904 to 1914.

Be sure to visit soon and enjoy an interesting and informative time at our Museum. We would love to see you!

Visitors from the North

Today Kapiti Coast Museum was buzzing with the excitement of discovering new (but actually quite old)  treasures as we hosted Amateur Radio operators from the Napier and Hastings Amateur Radio Clubs!  Some of these folk had visited in the past but for many it was a new experience. For some it was a trip down memory lane as they became reacquainted with radio transmitters they had operated in the past on ocean going liners, for others the opportunity to identify WW2 equipment such as our transmitter and receiver from a Lancaster Bomber. We also put the museum radio station on the air and one of our visitors used our ZL6KCM callsign to make a contact. We also found that Peter, one of our busy committee members, is a dab hand at freshly baked scones – thanks Peter! The museum is always happy to host larger groups for visits such as this. Please contact us well in advance so we can be sure to make your visit both memorable and successful.

The romance of the radio telegraph service

A short film:  From Back Blocks To High Seas – the use of wireless telegraphy in the 1930s.

We have an extensive collection of the type of technology used to provide services such as featured in this 1930s documentary about communication to and from New Zealand. See the link to this You Tube clip just added to our ‘Communications” page on our website here.

This is a NZ Government film scanned to 2K from a 16mm combined B/W reduction print. Film clip courtesy Archives New Zealand.

If you have access to any other video clips that may be of interest to the museum please feel free to contact us.

An exhibit with links to Bechuanaland Protectorate!

I don’t imagine too many of our readers know where this was! The Bechuanaland Protectorate was established on 31 March 1885, by the United Kingdom in Southern Africa. It became the Republic of Botswana on 30 September 1966.

The museum radio collection includes a Marconi CR100 radio receiver which was purchased and used in Botswana for many years before it was bought back to New Zealand by its owner. It was originally owned by the Bechuanaland Protectorate Police and was used used by a senior officer on his travels around remote parts of the country.

The Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company Ltd was then based in Chelmsford, UK. According to the manual, there are a number of variants to this venerable old set. The initial prototype was designated CR100. This was followed by variants designated CR100/1 through CR100/8. These specialised receivers were excellent performers considering the state of technology in the late 1930’s to 1940’s. We don’t know if our example is still serviceable, but armed with a copy of the excellent technical handbook we intend to find out!

We consider ourselves very fortunate to have this item in the museum together with a little of its history. If you are aware of museum pieces that have a history please contact us. You may be able to help us “fill in the gaps” and thereby make the museum exhibits that much more interesting.

The Needle Telegraph – Precursor to the Cellphone

One of the more fascinating items in the museum is The Needle Telegraph. You may well ask what is the connection between this and the cellphone?

The growth of the railways from 1825 onwards brought with it a need for a new form of communications that could work over large distances and in any weather. Charles Wheatstone and William Cooke were two Englishmen who on 25th July 1837 demonstrated a system for sending messages using electricity. A set of magnetic needles could be deflected by an electric current such that the needles would point to a particular letter on a grid. The demonstration in the video below shows how a 4 needle telegraph – a slightly later model of the July 1837 original – operates and how letters could be communicated. The needle telegraph started a telecommunications revolution based on electrical communication.




Find out more by viewing this You Tube video by Professor Nigel Linge, University of Salford, UK. Our museums example is a “Single Needle Telegraph” and contains the complete English alphabet.

Search function added to website

You can now search our database and our Blog entries using a customised Google site search. Select this feature from the drop down “Collections” menu located at the top of the page. Please note that recently added exhibits, database amendments and new Blog entries may take up to 5 days before they are indexed and appear in search results.