Quiz – Identify The Dignitary

We have this photo in our collection and we would like to know who these people are.  In particular the gentleman standing on the left wearing a traditional Māori cloak (korowai).  We have had a few suggestions but we are not sure and we would like to hear your thoughts.

Here is some background…  This photograph was among the possessions of a serviceman who returned from World War Two.  It has been mass produced by a photographic studio based in Petone (no longer in operation).  The returned soldier was very involved in rugby and his community and he ran a business in Petone.

The ink stamp on the back reads: Photocraft Studio Jackson St Petone Tel 61-607.

Please contact us if you know, or you think you know! Thanks.

Can you identify any of these people?
Can you identify any of these people?



Military Pips

We are still working hard at the cataloguing project and currently we are adding some of the smaller items to the military display which have, until now, been in storage.  The badges require polishing and the results are quite sparkly – getting rid of many years of dirt is very satisfying.

There is a collection of ten ‘pips’ worn on the shoulders of an officer’s uniform.  The more pips meant the higher rank. The picture (above) shows you a pip which has not been polished next to one that has.

Great results have also been achieved with a common NZ Military Service ONWARD badge (below).  All these items are now available to view in our military cabinet.


Music Box Tune

This 1950s Japanese made musical jewellery box has been in our collection for some time.

Musical Jewellery Box
Musical Jewellery Box

We would love to know what tune it is playing.  Please listen to the recording by clicking on the ‘Music Box’ link below, and contact us if you recognize it.

UPDATE… Thanks to Sarah for her email, she informs us that the tune is ‘Sunrise Sunset’ from Fiddler on the Roof.

Music Box

Contents of a Trinket Box

Passenger List
R.M.S Arawa Passenger List

This ship’s passenger list was located in a hidden lower compartment in a lockable oak trinket box.

It is for the R.M.S. Arawa which left Wellington on 27th March 1908, bound for London.

The list includes passengers Mr R J Port and Mrs Port –  Mrs Port being the owner of the trinket box.  We wonder why they visited London?  Was it a trip home to visit family?  We know for certain that they returned to New Zealand.

As all passengers were listed as ‘third class’ it can’t have been the most comfortable of journeys.

The bottom compartment of the box also held a will, letters from children, insurance policies and a marriage certificate.

The upper compartments hold earrings, cufflinks, buttons, coins, a brooch, a tie pin, pearls and nail scissors.

Oak trinket box which held papers and records in the lower compartment.


Welcome Little Stranger


This hand-worked cushion cover was made for a newborn baby and bears the words “Welcome Little Stranger” along with a motif of butterflies  and leaves.  The term “little stranger” was not an uncommon endearment for newborn children.  One theory for this is that calling a newborn baby “stranger” maintained a distance from it, in case it should die in infancy, which was common for the times.

The cover dates from approx. 1900 and is part of the Port Family Collection at the Kapiti Coast Museum (it is not currently on display).

Newborn's Cushion Cover c1900.  Port Collection.
Newborn’s Cushion Cover c1900. Port Collection.


Alternative Use for a Whale Vetebra

This is the largest bone in the museum collection and is part of the spine of a whale, hunted near Kapiti Island possibly over 100 years ago.  This vertebra was owned by the Port Family and was gifted to the museum in the 1990s.

In his book “Adventures in New Zealand” (1845) Edward Jerningham Wakefield described in great detail the interior of a whaler’s hut, in which he describes vertebrae like this one being used as seats.

Beautiful Example of Hand Sewing c1840

Today we catalogued the Port Family christening gown, a beautiful garment hand-made in the 1840s.  It is white cotton,  with embroidered bodice, sleeves and hem.  It comes complete with full length petticoat which also has detail at the hem.

A treasured article of clothing that we are taking good care of to ensure it lasts well into the future.  It is currently on display at the museum.

To see other items from this collection click the Port Collection link under the ‘Collections’ tab on our website.  Work is on-going with this collection and more items are added every week.  We are approximately half-way through the entire collection and it should be completed some time in March.



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.

Local Collection Gets A Boost

Alphabet Animals in French/English c1860s

The Port Family of Waikanae immigrated to NZ from Ireland in 1840, and the Kapiti Coast Museum is extremely privileged to house a large array of artefacts and archives from the family, dating right back to when they first arrived in New Zealand.

This collection is currently the subject of some intense cataloguing work, all of which is being added to the website as we go.  To see the work done so far click on ‘Port Collection’ under the Collections tab.

The array of items is vast, and extremely interesting to work with –  favourites so far have been the scrap book and some of the letters.  This collection should be finished the cataloguing phase sometime next year.

Scrapbook c1900s