Research Library & Pou Maumahara
The Museum's Documentary Heritage collections, accessed through the Library Reading Room, contain a wealth of information and stories about Auckland and New Zealand's social and military history, as well as scientific research and Māori and Pacific history.
Class visits can be self-guided by teachers, or hosted by Documentary Heritage curators, collection managers, and research staff.
On a self-guided visit, students can use the extensive resources and books in the Library Reading Room, including digital resources such as Online Cenotaph and Collections Online. Students can photocopy from books and some other items, but no special-collections material can be retrieved. Staff on duty will be able to assist with enquiries and provide research support.
Our nationally significant Documentary Heritage collections in both original material and published works parallel the wider Museum collections. We have, for example, an overarching emphasis on the Auckland province and te ao Māori; an impressive collection of botanical books; material on early voyaging, and academic and general interest works on the natural sciences. There is also a wealth of material covering subjects as wide-ranging as applied arts and design, ethnology and human history, and, of course, the history of New Zealand's military at home and abroad, from the New Zealand Wars to the World Wars.
During a hosted session of one hour, student groups will receive a guided experience which may include accessing such varied items such as manuscripts, ephemera, maps, charts and plans, newspapers and periodicals, rare books and pamphlets, and photographs. These visits can be tailored to the students' year level and research topic, supported by related material, where it exists. Documentary Heritage staff will be on hand to discuss the items they have prepared, and will provide advice on research methodology and skills along the way.
Please note that for a variety of reasons, our collections of original material are not strong as far as comparatively recent military engagements such as the Vietnam War, peacekeeping, or events in Afghanistan are concerned.
Before visiting, teachers and students should familiarise themselves with Collections Online, the museum's database of collection objects (including books and other published items). Please ensure your students are familiar with our Guidelines for Access to Documentary Heritage.
Please note there is a charge for hosted sessions, which have a maximum capacity of 20 students.
Pou Maumahara Memorial Discovery Centre
Pou Maumahara Memorial Discovery Centre is our new research and gallery space. Its purpose is to commemorate New Zealanders who served in overseas conflicts, with a particular focus on those who served in World War I. It is a space where official histories can be accessed alongside objects, sound recordings, documentary heritage material, and digital interactives.
Pou Maumahara is the physical embodiment of Online Cenotaph, a biographical database that pulls together information relating to individual New Zealand servicepeople from a huge range of sources such as embarkation, military service and other government records, newspapers and family members. Content dates from the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s up to the peacekeeping missions of today. The public are able to contribute images, documents, and other pieces of information directly into the records.
Please note the core of our records describe those who served in the New Zealand Army for World War I (100,000) and World War II (104,000). Other collection strengths include the South African and Vietnam wars. We are working on 20th-century conflicts but this is a weaker part of our resource.
Students can discuss more general military queries relating to major military events with our team. However, emphasis is placed on the individual New Zealand experience of war and our book collection and database reflects this.
To get the best out of your visit, we suggest your students search Online Cenotaph before coming to the Museum. Get them to adopt a record: they can find one by, for example, searching using a surname or address. Ask them to read through the record and make a note of questions they have. After their visit, they can contribute additional information they've discovered to their chosen record.