The Western Bay Museum aspires to be Aotearoa’s best small museum.

We are a registered Charitable Trust that preserves, conserves, stores and displays the historic and noteworthy items of the area to the highest standards with the support of Museums Aotearoa and Te Papa National Services Te Paerangi.

With these leading national organisations, the Western Bay Museum has developed into the unique sector leading and well-respected establishment it is today.

“We bring to life the pioneering spirit of the Western Bay. We remember the storms and hardships of the voyages that brought the settlers here. We champion, commemorate and celebrate those who worked together – local Māori, Ulster Irish and all other settlers  – to build this region and we strive to keep their memory alive. We evoke their determination and struggles in our work. We consider ourselves the guardians and custodians of the Western Bay’s stories and treasures.  Our forbearers made the area what it is today. Without them and their legacy, there would be no us.”

From humble beginnings

The organisation has its roots in the privately-owned Katikati Heritage Museum.

In 2010 the venture became a community-owned establishment staffed by volunteers but the museum was failing and there was a risk the collection of historical importance would be lost forever if it was disbanded.

Led by Paula Gaelic, the museum was temporarily closed and a team of dedicated locals spent 2 years sorting, identifying and cataloguing thousands of items from the collection (including over 8,000 glass bottles) and deciding which ones were important enough to be kept for a new museum.

Through sheer perseverance, determination, bravery and hard work, the funding and location for a new museum were secured. The aim was to create a high quality establishment that was owned by the community, for the community.

From humble beginnings, Paula and her team have created the unique and inspiring museum you see today.

Inspiring the future

The museum is now housed inside the instantly recognisable historic landmark that is the old Fire Station in Katikati.

Built in 1955, it helped protect the local community for over 50 years and continues to do so now, just in a different form. The fire station combines and celebrates our past and the modern, forward thinking organisation we are now.

The museum is a space the entire community are proud of. It is a source of education and inspiration to locals and to visitors from around the world.

It operates with the help of many volunteers, donors, sponsors and funding organisations including Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

More than your average museum

Unlike many small regional museums, the interior is modern, bright and open and exhibitions are updated three times a year. This keeps the museum fresh and exciting and encourages people to return regularly.  

Unique, hands-on museum experiences let visitors step back in time to the 1900s and our outdoor activities using the garden and Uretara Stream embody our ‘beyond-the-walls’ philosophy.

The museum is staffed by a group of over 70 passionate and knowledgeable volunteer guides who help to create memorable visitor experiences. They recount tales of storm-ridden ocean voyages, adventurers and entrepreneurs to the many people who come through the doors every year.

Alongside the exhibitions, experiences and the outdoor engagement areas, they help to bring to life the stories on which the foundations of the Western Bay of Plenty are built.

Western Bay Museum

What we do at Western Bay Museum

Western BayMuseum is more than a museum; we’re a central part of Katikati and the wider Western Bay of Plenty Community.

Our community activities and services fall within six strategic main areas which make up our Museum Development Plan, and these are:

OurMuseum Activities

At the museum we conserve, preserve, rehome, catalogue and display items of relevancefrom the Western Bay of Plenty’s past for the public to view and enjoy.

Our recently appointed Curator will fully catalogue the museum’s collection of 11,000 items that are either on display or in a storage facility.  

Future Steps: Provide educational and vocational opportunities for our youth /rangatahi. Bring taonga / treasured possessions home to the Western Bay of Plenty in collaboration with mana whenua and the residents of the Western Bay. 

Our Interactive Heritage Centre Activities

Western Bay Museum, open seven days a week, is sited in the old Fire Station, 32 Main Rd, Katikati and is a modern, uncluttered space with permanent collections,exhibitions that change three to four times a year, interactive technology anda 1900s school room.

Visitors to the museum can experience Guided Tours during the week with an experienced local volunteer. ‘Step Back in Time’ Group Tours offer the opportunity for a Guided Tour followed by scones baked in the wood range along with tea served in bonechina, served by volunteers in period costume. 

Future Steps: To perpetuate our history and stories by making them even more memorable and more accessible. 

Volunteering Opportunities

Over 70 passionate, knowledgeable and committed volunteers are involved with the museum. They offer their time, skills and experience in a variety of ways; from sharing stories of our ancestors and creating memorable experiences for our visitors to helping with conservation, restoration and preservation of treasures and tales. 

Partnering with local iwi and hapu

With the Western Bay’s mana whenua, we have a shared focus on the rohe’s natural, physical and cultural heritage, with our Kaupapa centres on the partnership model encapsulated in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Future Steps: Development of a Pa Harakeke to sit alongside our Te Rongoa garden, located alongside our Museum on the banks of the Uretara Stream. 

Our Education Programmes

We provide an interactive and fun opportunity for local primary school students to Step Back in Time to the 1900s. Children, dressed in costume, experience a 1900s school lesson, bake scones on the wood range and have a chance to experience technology and machinery from the past including a rotary dial phone and a typewriter. 

Our Environmental Education Programmes

Treasuring Our Place is a nature-based programme, delivered by an environmental educator to local primary school children in the outdoor area of the museum on the banks of the Uretara Stream. The programme sits alongside a range of environmental projects being undertaken in Katikati under the ‘Taiao’ umbrella where children learn the importance of environmental protection.

Future steps: Extend the programme to local secondaryschools in line with curriculum updates in 2023.

We need your support

There are several ways you can support your museum. Become a Friend of the Museum, join our group of hardworking volunteers, donate online or become a partner. If you think you can help, we'd love to hear from you.

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Opening hours

Monday to Friday
10:00 am — 4:00 pm

Saturday and Sunday and Public Holidays
11:00 am — 3:00 pm

Closed: Good Friday, Anzac Day morning, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day

Contact details

The Old Fire Station
32 Main Road
Katikati 3129
New Zealand

Phone +64 7 549 0651